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Martin Wight’s Theology of Diplomacy

  • Robert Jackson
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan History of International Thought Series book series (PMHIT)

Abstract

Diplomacy, its practice, its history, and its philosophy, is a preoccupation of Martin Wight’s international thought.1 Modern international society is understood to be a diplomatic system at its core.2 The various activities and institutions of diplomacy, such as the exchange of resident ambassadors, the activity of communication between states, the practice of diplomatic immunity, the holding of congresses and conferences, the negotiation of treaties and agreements of various kinds, are not only a distinguishing feature but also a foundational element of any society of independent states. When the diplomatic system is absent we are not likely to be contemplating political activities that could accurately be labeled “international.” When it is present we are almost certainly witnessing international relations. Diplomacy has a long history and a well-established theory, which is the business of scholars to elucidate in their teachings and writings. Historical and philosophical perspective on international relations is what Martin Wight very largely succeeded in bringing to his scholarship.

Keywords

Foreign Policy International Relation International Affair International Politics Common Morality 
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.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Martin Wight, “Why is there No International theory?,” in H. Butterfield and M. Wight (eds.), Diplomatic Investigations (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968), p. 22.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    H. Nicolson, The Evolution of Diplomatic Method (London: Constable, 1954).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Martin Wight, Systems of States ed. Hedley Bull (London and Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1977), pp. 53–56, 130–31.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    C. Hibbert, The English: A Social History (London: Paladin, 1988), p. 98.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    G. Mattingly, Renaissance Diplomacy (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1955), p. 23.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    See Michael Oakeshott, On Human Conduct (Oxford: Clarendon, 1975)Google Scholar
  7. and Robert Jackson, The Global Covenant: Human Conduct in a World of States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    M. Wight, International Theory: The Three Traditions (London: RIIA and Leicester University Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    For an example of such misunderstanding see Michael Nicholson, “The Enigma of Martin Wight,” Review of International Studies vol. 7 (January 1981), pp. 15–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Also see the reply by Alan James, “Michael Nicholson on Martin Wight: A Mind Passing in the Night,” Review of International Studies, vol. 8 (April 1982), pp. 117–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 17.
    See the insightful comments on this point in Roger Epp, “The ‘Augustinian Moment’ in International Politics: Niebuhr, Butterfield, Wight and the Reclaiming of a Tradition,” International Politics Research Occasional Paper vol. 10 (Aberystwyth: Department of International Politics, 1991).Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    H. Bull, “Introduction: Martin Wight and the Study of International Relations,” in Martin Wight, Systems of States (London and Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1977), pp. 11–12.Google Scholar
  13. Bull is referring to Wight’s essay, “The Church, Russia and the West,” Ecumenical Review vol. 1 (Autumn 1948).Google Scholar
  14. 20.
    Hans J. Morgenthau, Scientific Man versus Power Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946).Google Scholar
  15. Morgenthau’s anti-Pelagianism is discussed by Michael Oakeshott, Religion, Politics and the Moral Life (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993), pp. 103–05.Google Scholar
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  21. 44.
    I. Kant, “Perpetual Peace,” in H. Reiss (ed.), Kant: Political Writings, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 93–130.Google Scholar
  22. 45.
    A well-known recent example of this quasi-religious sort of thinking is E Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Avon Books, 1992).Google Scholar
  23. 49.
    Martin Wight, Power Politics, 2nd ed. (London: Penguin Books and Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1986), p. 89.Google Scholar
  24. 50.
    G.E Hegel, Philosophy of Right, tr. T.M. Knox (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1949).Google Scholar
  25. 51.
    The first barbarism is the Saracens, the second is the Albigensian heresy, and the third is the Turks under the Ottoman Empire. See R.G. Collingwood, The New Leviathan (New York: Crowell, 1971), pp. 375–87.Google Scholar
  26. 62.
    See R. Stevenson, “The Evolution of Pacifism,” International Journal of Ethics, vol. 44 (July 1934), pp. 437–51.Google Scholar
  27. 67.
    M. Wight, British Colonial Constitutions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952).Google Scholar
  28. 68.
    Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 6 reprinted in R.M. Hutchins (ed.), Great Books of the Western World, vol. xliii, American State Papers (Chicago; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952), p. 39.Google Scholar
  29. 75.
    Quoted by A. Coll, “Normative Prudence as a Tradition of Statecraft,” Ethics and International Affairs, vol. 5 (1991), p. 45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See Niebuhr, Beyond Tragedy. Also see J.D. Barbour, “Niebuhr versus Niebuhr: The Tragic Nature of History,” The Christian Century (1984), pp. 1096–99.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Robert Jackson 2005

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  • Robert Jackson

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