Bored enough yet? International order, ideology, and what it takes to get history started again

Bored enough yet? International order, ideology, and what it takes to get history started again Abstract Order needs an ideational foundation that provides it with legitimacy. Most scholars writing on international order, though they employ fundamentally different approaches and intellectual histories, appear to agree on this. This book review essay contrasts some of these different perspectives. It reviews Francis Fukuyama's eminent The end of history and the last man and asks what it can tell us about the ideational and psychological conditions underlying change in the international order. This discussion is integrated with a review of three more recent works on order formation and change: Richard Haass focuses on the distribution of material power, Barry Buzan and George Lawson discuss the transformational impact of the nineteenth century on international relations and Andrew Phillips and J. C. Sharman look at the relationship between divergence of polity forms and order. I argue that the post-Second World War order, which rests on liberal democracy as the consensually agreed on ideational foundation, remains firmly in place—despite challenges from nationalism, authoritarianism or religious fanaticism. However, there are three ways in which a new order could be brought about: power shifts leading to hegemonic war, wild cards or the emergence of a new ideational foundation that poses a feasible alternative to liberal democracy. Since he advanced his ‘end of history’ thesis in the early 1990s, attacking Francis Fukuyama has become a popular sport among political commentators and scholars: his arguments were a nefarious endorsement of neo-conservative empire-building. They had been proved wrong time and again by international crises and revisions, such as global terrorism, the rise of China, the reassertion of Russia in geopolitics and so on. Clearly, history could not have ended in 1989, and western liberal democracy is still under attack, if not dead already. Most critics have wrongly interpreted Fukuyama's argument as unabashed western triumphalism, or a blank cheque for an interventionist foreign policy agenda. One question they raise, however, is an important one: what, exactly, might get history started again, if it had ever ended? Although The end of history and the last man does not claim to be about order formation and change, the central psychological concept in the book, the desire to be recognized, is ‘critical to political life’ and drives ‘the whole historical process’ (p. xvii). Recognition, thus, ‘provides us with insight into the nature of international politics’ (p. xx). This becomes particularly problematic for political life when it turns into a desire to be recognized as superior to other people—Fukuyama refers to this psychological drive as megalothymia—and a struggle against the boredom that was brought on by the liberal democratic end of history. Boredom, therefore, could get history started again by evoking a revolt of the ‘last men’. In this way, we can interpret this notion of boredom as a source of change, or dynamism, in the international order, which is why The end of history and the last man provides a useful framework to conduct this review. The other works reviewed here are also uniquely suited to aid in the task of studying order and change as they advance contrasting perspectives on how the contemporary international order came about. More precisely, they present the diverging intellectual histories that international relations (IR) has produced to explain how orders developed. Richard Haass takes a traditional perspective on order formation and transformation, while the other authors advance more critical narratives. But they have one thing in common: their conceptions of order are all built around some form of normative consensus—a common ideational foundation that provides legitimacy. Although different approaches are used to discuss the phenomena of changing orders, they all help us understand how historical developments have made our world more interconnected (primarily through the process of globalization) and fragmented (in terms of a divergence of polities, ideologies or interpretations of capitalism) at the same time. To study how order changes, we first need to determine what we understand by the term. Haass cautions that order is ‘used differently by different people and can obscure as much as illuminate’ and stresses that ‘it is best used in a neutral, descriptive way, as a reflection of the nature of international relations at any moment … as a measure of the world's condition’ (A world in disarray, p. 17). Despite this commitment to conceptual neutrality, the way Haass conceives of order is unapologetically traditional: order was built by the West, has been sustained by the United States' power and is now increasingly under threat from rising challengers and the vertical dissipation of power. The question that theorists of international order have asked themselves from the very beginning is what comes first: a hierarchical distribution of material power, out of which emerge leading states, which then build the order they desire; or some kind of organizing principle—in most accounts, mutually agreed norms of authority or legitimacy, but also cultural convergence, or some form of agreement on diplomatic and economic exchange—that determines how an order is structured and by whom. Among those that emphasize that order is built by the most powerful states, the work of Robert Gilpin is particularly important: as leading states rise and decline, the international order changes with them. Once established, Gilpin suggests, the international order would provide ‘a set of constraints and opportunities within which individual groups and states seek to advance their interests’.1 But even Gilpin holds that the international system consists of diverse entities that ‘interact regularly’ and ‘are bound together by some form of control that regulates behaviour and may range from informal rules of the system to formal institutions’.2 For the past seven decades, this ideational foundation for the international order has been provided by liberal democracy. This term, along with ‘western liberalism’ or ‘liberal universalism’, is often denigrated to mean little more than an incessant American claim to global hegemony. However, these challenges rarely offer an alternative in terms of a preferred form of human government. And it is hard to argue with the claim that liberal democracy has provided some obvious benefits to the stability of the post-Second World War state system: a commitment to rules-based international order, open markets, international institutions, cooperative security, and collective problem solving. Others have referred to the domestic constitutional limits on the abuse of power within liberal democracies themselves, which make these states more effective at establishing the necessary authority to maintain a hierarchical order as another reason why the western-championed order has been durable. And then, of course, there is power. As the US remains the most powerful country in the world today, the necessary material basis for a western-led liberal international order in a pure ‘Gilpinean realist’ sense remains in place. Much like Fukuyama, Haass is a proponent of the liberal democratic order. Worryingly, though, he thinks it is coming to an end, as we are witnessing ‘a widespread rejection of globalization and international involvement and, as a result, a questioning of long-standing postures and policies’ (p. 2). The West has lost much of its power, the regional orders in Europe, the Middle East and east Asia have broken down, and populism, extremism and authoritarianism are spreading. The twenty-first century, thus, ‘represents a departure from almost four centuries of history—what is normally thought of as the modern era’ (p. 13). The international order, which was built on the Westphalian state system, has been sustained by two components: the post-Second World War liberal democratic order and the managed competition of the Cold War. After the disappearance of the ‘Cold War order’, liberal democracy was ill-equipped to replace it fully. ‘The world was not well positioned to deal with the diffusion of power that was to come, with the emergence of non-state actors, or with the many challenges of globalization’ (p. 72). Haass's account is, unsurprisingly, US–centric throughout and in this sense blurs the line between grand theorizing on the nature of international order and proposing a US foreign policy agenda which would maintain the country's rightful hegemony. Haass recognizes that he is walking this line when he says that ‘“order” is not the same as “orderly”; to the contrary, the term “order” implicitly also reflects the degree of disorder that inevitably exists. One can have world orders that are anything but stable or desirable’ (p. 18). This is a clear warning of what an order not led by the US might look like, which does leave the reader wondering just what kind of order it is, then, that is emerging. ‘Disorderly’ might be a fitting description—a sort of Hobbesian world in which nuclear proliferation, the collapse of states and mass migration continue unchecked. To answer the question of whether single political events, or developments in one country, such as the rise of populism or nationalism, can affect the international order as a whole, we turn to the work of Barry Buzan and George Lawson, which offers a more macrohistorical treatment of order formation and change. The authors argue that existing IR theories pay too little attention to changes in the density and connectedness of the international system over time. The ‘long nineteenth century’—from the American and French revolutions to the First World War—would provide a much more suitable grounding for IR. This was the period that ushered in ‘global modernity’, defined by the interconnection of industrialization, the emergence of rational states and ‘ideologies of progress’—most notably liberalism, nationalism, socialism and ‘scientific racism’ (The global transformation, p. 5). Global modernity ‘pulled the world into a single system, within which the consequences of the changes in the mode and distribution of power were widely and deeply felt’ (p. 2). Overlooking the historical specificity and significance of this period had set the whole discipline on tenuous foundations. Perhaps the most remarkable quality of The global transformation is the authors' successful synthesis of literatures and research findings from a broad range of disciplines—IR, economics, world history and historical sociology. They also provide a candid dissection of the intellectual roots of IR in scientific racism and imperialism, going as far as to suggest that the discipline, in its traditional self-conception, had deliberately ignored these inconvenient truths so as to be able to constitute itself as more ‘noble’—a cause taken up in the aftermath of the First World War with the aim of understanding and solving the problem of war (p. 326). The argument is compelling and clear, with few exceptions. One of the key concepts, the ‘mode of power’, remains imprecisely defined. It is introduced as ‘the material and ideational relations that are generative of both actors and the ways in which power is exercised’ (p. 1, fn. 2). Furthermore, changes in the mode of power are seen to be more significant than changes in the distribution of power. Although the authors assert that ‘ideational relations’ or ‘social sources’ (p. 307) are shaping the mode of power, the lack of operationalization of the concept in the main body of the book stops readers from retracing how, exactly, these sources of power worked to bring about global modernity. With respect to the contemporary world order, The global transformation suggests that we are currently in the third of three stages of global modernity. After two phases of ‘centred globalism’, the world is now entering the third stage of modernity, ‘decentred globalism’ (p. 273). Such a world, Buzan and Lawson assert, would have several Great Powers and many regional powers, but no superpowers, and the increasing destructive capacity of weapons brought about by global modernity would have made wars between these Great Powers obsolete (p. 277). As an illustration for the conditions under which such a ‘region-centred’ international society would operate, the authors list the workings of the EU and, as a starker example, Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 (p. 278). Even though the authors suggest that the continuation and intensification of modernity would increasingly challenge western dominance, they expect ideological divisions among major powers to diminish. Rather than the existential, zero-sum equation of ‘capitalism or not’, which had been the defining feature of the Cold War, they argue that the debate will now revolve around how to embed capitalism politically, with proponents of liberal and authoritarian modes of governance on either side (p. 281). This concerns only governance arrangements, however. In terms of the international order, authoritarian states ‘offer no systemic alternative for how global affairs might be organized’ (p. 189). If authoritarian capitalism can exist within a liberal democratic international order, and does not affect the order itself, or more precisely its ideational foundation, are there other ideological challenges that could cause this change? The main rivals to liberal democracy, Fukuyama argued in the early 1990s, would not pose much of a threat anymore. His brief survey of competing ideologies remains compelling. The first, fascism, was destroyed on a material level, but also in ideational terms. Due to its lack of success in Nazi Germany, ‘expansionist ultranationalism, with its promise of unending conflict leading to disastrous military defeat’, completely lost its appeal (‘The end of history?’, The National Interest, vol. 16, summer 1989, p. 9). The second, socialism, was rooted out together with the dismantling of the Soviet Union. A third potential competitor is religion. However, modern liberalism itself was historically a consequence of the weakness of religiously-based societies, which failed to provide even the minimal preconditions of peace and stability (The end of history?', p. 14). Assuming these challengers are out of the way, what alternatives to liberalism might emerge today? Among the ideologies of progress outlined by Buzan and Lawson, one in particular has gained traction in many parts of the world: nationalism—a threat also identified by Haass. Russia presents a stark example of a country where nationalism shapes not only the domestic sphere, but also external behaviour and conceptions of international order. Russian nationalism, which is commonly associated with the pan-nationalist variant of ‘Eurasianism’, has been posited as an ideological counterpart to western liberal democracy. One of its chief propagators is Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin. Influenced by writers such as Carl Schmitt, Karl Haushofer and Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Dugin's Eurasianism is a medley of anti-liberalism—an attempted integration of national-socialist, communist and traditionalist ideology—compounded with geopolitical and sociological theory. Opposition to US hegemony and western liberalism have generally become established elements of contemporary Russian foreign policy doctrine. Official documents express concerns not just about western hard power projection, but increasingly also about soft power, which is allegedly used to push former Soviet states on a liberal developmental path. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stated in no uncertain terms that time had proved wrong Fukuyama's ‘end of history’ concept, and that the rise of China, in particular, illustrates ‘the undeniable plurality of development models and excludes the boring uniformity implied by the western coordinate system’.3 Have these differences become so large, the ideological battles so intense, that we can no longer speak of a western liberal democratic international order? Fukuyama distinguishes between different degrees of nationalism, ranging from mild cultural nostalgia to the highly organized doctrine of national socialism, of which only the latter qualifies as a formal ideology on the same level as liberalism or communism. However, he is left as unconcerned by nationalism as he is by other ideologies competing with liberalism, arguing that most of the world's nationalist movements could not offer anything like a comprehensive agenda for socio-economic organization (‘The end of history?’, p. 14). Nationalist ideology, therefore, while it might be a source of conflict, does not necessarily have to be inherently incompatible with the liberal democratic order. Also, we might add that the nationalist challenge is not new, and has always been part of a pluralistic conception of order. As Buzan and Lawson maintain, nationalism, sovereignty and territoriality will remain widely held values, but the acceptance of this kind of ideological pluralism is perfectly compatible with international order (p. 301). Similarly, in International order in diversity, Andrew Phillips and J. C. Sharman suggest that diverse polity forms or ideologies do not necessarily preclude the existence of a common order. Their book, in the same vein as The global transformation, challenges the traditional conception of IR as a product of Westphalia. Focusing solely on the Indian Ocean region, the ‘centre of early modern globalization’, they show that diverse polity forms managed to produce a condition of ‘durable diversity’ in an international system that endured for over four centuries. Although their main variable is the polity—statist, imperial and corporate—the authors hold that individual actors' motivations and strategies (p. 105), and the formation and stabilization of a diverse regional system (p. 92) both rest on ideational and cultural foundations. Phillips and Sharman's questioning of ‘a deeper intuition within international relations, which implicitly links convergence and homogeneity with order, and conversely associates heterogeneity and institutional diversity with disorder’ (p. 222), provides some reassurance in times when divisions between ideologies and forms of government appear to be getting deeper. Their account illustrates how competition may fail to produce convergence towards a common polity form, and yet still yield a stable international order. In their case-study of the Indian Ocean region, they argue that stability was brought about by the very differences in the ends and means of polities. Due to their internal differences, polities could pursue mutually beneficial strategies, as they were able to escape the ‘zero-sum competitive logic that frequently defines relations between functionally equivalent like units’ (p. 6). However, polities still needed to possess sufficient congruence in beliefs concerning the conception of political authority. Individual actors achieved this congruence through reciprocal processes of localization. Broadly defined, localization refers to the symbolic legitimation of the European presence, or an ‘interactive process through which Europeans insinuated their way into local polities, acting alternatively as vassals, partners or suzerains depending on locally prevalent cultural scripts’ (p. 16). Polity leaders—even if they were as different as the Mughal emperor and the Dutch and English East India Company directors—were thus able to accept ‘shared and overlapping authority claims, according to which two rulers would hold different sovereign prerogatives over the same territory’ (p. 6). Their argument could be challenged by the fact that functionally similar units, such as sovereign nation-states, have been shown to be able to surmount the deadlock of zero-sum competition, too. More importantly, it should be noted that a zero-sum understanding of political competition is not necessarily incompatible with the emergence of order, as illustrated by the bipolar configuration of the Cold War—which, according to Haass, was one of the main sources of order in the aftermath of the Second World War. The point about the importance of a congruence in compatible beliefs concerning the organization of political authority will be shared by most theorists of international order, traditional or other. This is the normative consensus necessary to establish the ideational foundation that a sustainable international order requires. Their argument on heteronomy—the existence of multiple, overlapping and fluid authority structures within the same territory—presents an interesting insight into the dynamics of the Indian Ocean order, but is difficult to apply to our modern liberal democratic order, which is crucially dependent on the norms of sovereignty and territoriality. International order in diversity is wide-ranging and thought-provoking. By conceiving of order not just in terms of sovereign states, the authors identify similarities and differences in how polities have structured their interactions over millennia, in a way that traditional theories of order anchored in Westphalia cannot. Ultimately, though, the question is whether theirs is more of a story of institutional commonalities, compatible preferences and congruent beliefs regarding authority—and how these are necessary for the formation of order—rather than polity diversity. Also, when it comes to the empirical account of polity relations in the Indian Ocean, the book cannot do without employing the analytical tools of power politics. Material capabilities, such as more powerful armies and navies and more rapid technological innovation, play the decisive role. The description of the Mughal empire, for example, is based on its ‘preponderance of material power’ which allowed it to ‘set the terms of European engagement’ with much of the Indian Ocean system over the early modern period (p. 10). Furthermore, the Dutch and English East India Companies are described as being able to supplant the Portuguese state primarily due to the might of their private militaries (p. 125). If not the diversity of ideologies or polities or the competition between them, then what could cause the international order to become unstable? Based on the books under review, there are three ways in which the western liberal democratic order could come to an end. The first, and most obvious if we follow a traditional conception of international order, is hegemonic war. In any such hard-nosed realist account of change, the most obvious contender to US hegemony is China. Wild cards are a second potential cause of change in the international order. These are events or developments that would transform the human condition entirely. Buzan and Lawson suggest that the unintended consequences of new technologies, the side-effects of new forms of energy production, pandemics and changes to the climate fall into this category, as would the emergence of a new mode of power (p. 294). It is self-evident that a global disaster, such as a substantial rise in sea levels, would impact societies, institutions, states and political economies— although it is much harder to imagine exactly how. The third possibility is the emergence of a new ideational foundation, offering a viable alternative to western liberal democracy. Kissinger touches on this point in his latest book, when he says that there is another potential cause of change in world orders, apart from a significant shift in the balance of power: a redefinition of legitimacy, which ‘occurs when the values underlying international arrangements are fundamentally altered—abandoned by those charged with maintaining them or overturned by revolutionary imposition of an alternative concept of legitimacy’. The result of such an erosion of legitimacy is not simply a multipolarity of power, but ‘a world of increasingly contradictory realities’.4 Phillips echoes this assessment in an earlier work where, based on a combination of realist and constructivist concepts, he argues that orders could be brought down by both material and ideational factors: ‘international orders are transformed when they experience systemic legitimacy crises occasioned by a combination of institutional decay, disruptive military innovations, and ideological shocks that terminally destabilize existing social imaginaries and thus shatter the normative consensus on which international orders depend’.5 It is difficult to predict what the effect of such ‘ideological shocks’ might be, and what a new ideational foundation, or competing concept of legitimacy, might look like. However, if we work backwards and assume that this new foundation is a response to a crisis of western liberal democracy, we may be able to identify some of its characteristics. Chris Brown, in a 1994 article, suggests that the discourses of modernity—the varieties of social and political thought dominant in the West since the Enlightenment—are in crisis, because the grounds of knowledge have disappeared (‘“Turtles all the way down”: anti-foundationalism, critical theory and International Relations’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies 23: 2, 1994, p. 214). Modern thought, in this way ungrounded in knowledge, would threaten reason and rationality themselves. Nietzsche, according to Brown, had prefigured this ‘anti-foundationalism’. His tale of the ‘last man’ provides a devastating account of the impoverished world that an excessive dependence ‘on the supposedly liberating force of rationality’ had created (‘“Turtles all the way down”’, p. 216). Nietzsche's last men are the inhabitants of Fukuyama's post-historic world. They would find ‘the life of masterless slavery—the life of rational consumption—in the end, boring. They will want to have ideals by which to live and die, even if the largest ideals have been substantively realized here on earth, and they will want to risk their lives even if the international state system has succeeded in abolishing the possibility of war’ (The end of history and the last man, p. 314). This is the contradiction that, according to Fukuyama, liberal democracy has not yet solved. Rather than simply accepting their state of bored complacency, the last men would rise and turn against the democratic and egalitarian values that had brought on their boredom. In the resulting empires of resentment, the last men would fight to reclaim the recognition post-historical society had taken away from them; ‘boredom … might get … history started again’ (‘The end of history’, p. 18). Fukuyama remains abstract for a reason, staying away from attempting to delineate the precise material conditions that could restart history. His text is about the triumph of the western liberal idea—the ‘end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of western liberal democracy as the final form of human government’ (‘The end of history?’, p. 2). His argument is, therefore, not nearly as far-fetched as some commentators have made it seem. Boredom is dissatisfaction with the ideational foundation provided by liberal democracy. The boringness of human existence would bring about nostalgia for past times, when history still existed. Such nostalgia would continue to fuel competition and conflict even in the post-historical world. Considerations such as these can supplement material or empirical accounts of order and change. To answer the question of whether any fundamental contradictions remain that liberal democracy cannot solve, it is not sufficient ‘to look around the world for empirical evidence of challenges to democracy, since this evidence would always be ambiguous and potentially deceptive’. The collapse of communism, for example, could not be taken as sufficient proof that no future challenges to democracy are possible. ‘Rather’, Fukuyama concludes, ‘we need a trans-historical standard against which to measure democratic society, some concept of “man as man” that would allow us to see its potential defects. It was for that reason that we turned to the “first men” of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Hegel’ (The end of history and the last man, p. 288). And boredom might have concrete effects on the material realities of international politics. Fukuyama gives the example of the First World War. Most interpretations of the causes of the war stressed German militarism and nationalism, the breakdown of the European balance of power, the increasing rigidity of the alliance system, the incentives placed on the pre-emption and aggression and recklessness of individual leaders. However, according to Fukuyama, there is another story to be told: ‘many European publics simply wanted war because they were fed up with the dullness and lack of community in civilian life’. After a century of peace since the last major European conflict, the pro-war demonstrations of 1914 could be seen ‘in some measure as rebellions against that middle-class civilization, with its security, prosperity, and lack of challenge … On a mass scale, megalothymia reappeared: not the megalothymia of individual princes, but of entire nations that sought recognition of their worth and dignity’ (p. 331). So boredom is also a psychological state: a condition that makes people long for change by any means. At its root is the feeling of being overwhelmed by a complex environment, the perceived inability to change one's circumstances or even to pinpoint what is causing one to be bored, ultimately resulting in a tendency to look to outside factors to blame for one's despair. Boredom, in this sense, is not antithetical to anger or frustration. Rather, the latter are outgrowths of the former. Unsurprisingly, these mental processes seem to describe well the standard image of a supporter of a right-wing populist movement.6 These mental images, of ‘boredom at the end of history’, of ‘last men’ and ‘empires of resentment’, help us get a sense of the defining characteristics of the kind of ideational foundations that could challenge western liberal democracy. Such a struggle, an attack on liberalism, would not aim to replace it with another ideology of progress—but challenge the very notion of ideologies of progress and the rational state, which underpins them. In The global transformation ideologies of progress are defined as ‘systematic schemas of thought, specifically modern liberalism, socialism, nationalism and scientific racism, which were rooted in ideals of progress and, in particular, associated with Enlightenment notions of classification, improvement and control’ (p. 7). To do away with these ideologies of progress, reason itself has to regress into superstition and myth, out of which it had emerged in the first place. For now, we continue to live in Fukuyama's post-historic world. The year 2016 did not herald the emergence of his ‘empires of resentment’, and neither did any of the other major or minor political upheavals of the post-Cold War years. But if the end of the end of history ever does roll around, Fukuyama might have given us a very good idea of what it could look like. In the absence of any just cause to struggle for, men would start to struggle against the just cause. They would struggle for the sake of struggling—struggle ‘out of a certain boredom’. ‘And if the greater part of the world in which they live is characterized by peaceful and prosperous liberal democracy, then they will struggle against that peace and prosperity, and against democracy’ (p. 330). But not yet. Until hegemonic war breaks out, global catastrophes occur or a new ideational foundation emerges, we have no reason to declare the end of liberal democracy and the order it upholds. Twenty-five years on, The end of history is still a worthwhile read. It shows that there is another way of thinking about international order in philosophical and psychological terms that is at least as instructive as Haass's systemic account of power and change, Phillips and Sharman's study of diverse polity types and order, and Buzan and Lawson's work on the impact of modernity. Fukuyama's basic point, that liberal democracy presents the ideal form of human government, still stands. In his more recent work, he further fortifies this thesis, arguing that the norms and institutions of liberal democracy are universally appealing, which is why they are so durable7—as a form of government, but also as an ideology underpinning the international order. Scholars writing on the topic of international order—those reviewed here and others—seem to agree that there exists some form of ideational foundation, like liberal democracy, that grants legitimacy to the order. Order is not just the result of a hierarchy of power, but obeys a functional logic. The works reviewed here show that it is well worth looking beyond the traditional teleology of IR which privileges the sovereign state, and develop novel perspectives on order and change. They further demonstrate the expediency of historical social science, as well as the potency of cross-disciplinary approaches in IR. And they lay open the difficulties the discipline still has with addressing systemic change. The authors illustrate the need for a larger conceptual framework, including both material, ideational and psychological factors, to be able to distinguish between the necessary and accidental conditions for change in the international order. 1 Robert Gilpin, War and change in world politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), fn 25. 2 Gilpin, War and change in world politics, p. 26. 3 Sergei Lavrov, ‘Russia's foreign policy in a historical perspective: musings at a new stage of international development’, Russia in Global Affairs, vol. 2, March 2016. 4 Henry Kissinger, World order (New York: Penguin, 2015), p. 365. 5 Andrew Phillips, War, religion and empire: the transformation of international orders (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 43. 6 In fact, another recent study makes this very connection and found that extreme political orientations are, in part, a function of boredom's existential qualities: Wijnand A. P. Van Tilburg and Eric R. Igou, ‘Going to political extremes in response to boredom’, European Journal of Social Psychology 46: 6, 2016. 7 Francis Fukuyama, Political order and political decay: from the Industrial Revolution to the globalisation of democracy (London: Profile Books, 2014). © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Institute of International Affairs. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Affairs Oxford University Press

Bored enough yet? International order, ideology, and what it takes to get history started again

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Abstract

Abstract Order needs an ideational foundation that provides it with legitimacy. Most scholars writing on international order, though they employ fundamentally different approaches and intellectual histories, appear to agree on this. This book review essay contrasts some of these different perspectives. It reviews Francis Fukuyama's eminent The end of history and the last man and asks what it can tell us about the ideational and psychological conditions underlying change in the international order. This discussion is integrated with a review of three more recent works on order formation and change: Richard Haass focuses on the distribution of material power, Barry Buzan and George Lawson discuss the transformational impact of the nineteenth century on international relations and Andrew Phillips and J. C. Sharman look at the relationship between divergence of polity forms and order. I argue that the post-Second World War order, which rests on liberal democracy as the consensually agreed on ideational foundation, remains firmly in place—despite challenges from nationalism, authoritarianism or religious fanaticism. However, there are three ways in which a new order could be brought about: power shifts leading to hegemonic war, wild cards or the emergence of a new ideational foundation that poses a feasible alternative to liberal democracy. Since he advanced his ‘end of history’ thesis in the early 1990s, attacking Francis Fukuyama has become a popular sport among political commentators and scholars: his arguments were a nefarious endorsement of neo-conservative empire-building. They had been proved wrong time and again by international crises and revisions, such as global terrorism, the rise of China, the reassertion of Russia in geopolitics and so on. Clearly, history could not have ended in 1989, and western liberal democracy is still under attack, if not dead already. Most critics have wrongly interpreted Fukuyama's argument as unabashed western triumphalism, or a blank cheque for an interventionist foreign policy agenda. One question they raise, however, is an important one: what, exactly, might get history started again, if it had ever ended? Although The end of history and the last man does not claim to be about order formation and change, the central psychological concept in the book, the desire to be recognized, is ‘critical to political life’ and drives ‘the whole historical process’ (p. xvii). Recognition, thus, ‘provides us with insight into the nature of international politics’ (p. xx). This becomes particularly problematic for political life when it turns into a desire to be recognized as superior to other people—Fukuyama refers to this psychological drive as megalothymia—and a struggle against the boredom that was brought on by the liberal democratic end of history. Boredom, therefore, could get history started again by evoking a revolt of the ‘last men’. In this way, we can interpret this notion of boredom as a source of change, or dynamism, in the international order, which is why The end of history and the last man provides a useful framework to conduct this review. The other works reviewed here are also uniquely suited to aid in the task of studying order and change as they advance contrasting perspectives on how the contemporary international order came about. More precisely, they present the diverging intellectual histories that international relations (IR) has produced to explain how orders developed. Richard Haass takes a traditional perspective on order formation and transformation, while the other authors advance more critical narratives. But they have one thing in common: their conceptions of order are all built around some form of normative consensus—a common ideational foundation that provides legitimacy. Although different approaches are used to discuss the phenomena of changing orders, they all help us understand how historical developments have made our world more interconnected (primarily through the process of globalization) and fragmented (in terms of a divergence of polities, ideologies or interpretations of capitalism) at the same time. To study how order changes, we first need to determine what we understand by the term. Haass cautions that order is ‘used differently by different people and can obscure as much as illuminate’ and stresses that ‘it is best used in a neutral, descriptive way, as a reflection of the nature of international relations at any moment … as a measure of the world's condition’ (A world in disarray, p. 17). Despite this commitment to conceptual neutrality, the way Haass conceives of order is unapologetically traditional: order was built by the West, has been sustained by the United States' power and is now increasingly under threat from rising challengers and the vertical dissipation of power. The question that theorists of international order have asked themselves from the very beginning is what comes first: a hierarchical distribution of material power, out of which emerge leading states, which then build the order they desire; or some kind of organizing principle—in most accounts, mutually agreed norms of authority or legitimacy, but also cultural convergence, or some form of agreement on diplomatic and economic exchange—that determines how an order is structured and by whom. Among those that emphasize that order is built by the most powerful states, the work of Robert Gilpin is particularly important: as leading states rise and decline, the international order changes with them. Once established, Gilpin suggests, the international order would provide ‘a set of constraints and opportunities within which individual groups and states seek to advance their interests’.1 But even Gilpin holds that the international system consists of diverse entities that ‘interact regularly’ and ‘are bound together by some form of control that regulates behaviour and may range from informal rules of the system to formal institutions’.2 For the past seven decades, this ideational foundation for the international order has been provided by liberal democracy. This term, along with ‘western liberalism’ or ‘liberal universalism’, is often denigrated to mean little more than an incessant American claim to global hegemony. However, these challenges rarely offer an alternative in terms of a preferred form of human government. And it is hard to argue with the claim that liberal democracy has provided some obvious benefits to the stability of the post-Second World War state system: a commitment to rules-based international order, open markets, international institutions, cooperative security, and collective problem solving. Others have referred to the domestic constitutional limits on the abuse of power within liberal democracies themselves, which make these states more effective at establishing the necessary authority to maintain a hierarchical order as another reason why the western-championed order has been durable. And then, of course, there is power. As the US remains the most powerful country in the world today, the necessary material basis for a western-led liberal international order in a pure ‘Gilpinean realist’ sense remains in place. Much like Fukuyama, Haass is a proponent of the liberal democratic order. Worryingly, though, he thinks it is coming to an end, as we are witnessing ‘a widespread rejection of globalization and international involvement and, as a result, a questioning of long-standing postures and policies’ (p. 2). The West has lost much of its power, the regional orders in Europe, the Middle East and east Asia have broken down, and populism, extremism and authoritarianism are spreading. The twenty-first century, thus, ‘represents a departure from almost four centuries of history—what is normally thought of as the modern era’ (p. 13). The international order, which was built on the Westphalian state system, has been sustained by two components: the post-Second World War liberal democratic order and the managed competition of the Cold War. After the disappearance of the ‘Cold War order’, liberal democracy was ill-equipped to replace it fully. ‘The world was not well positioned to deal with the diffusion of power that was to come, with the emergence of non-state actors, or with the many challenges of globalization’ (p. 72). Haass's account is, unsurprisingly, US–centric throughout and in this sense blurs the line between grand theorizing on the nature of international order and proposing a US foreign policy agenda which would maintain the country's rightful hegemony. Haass recognizes that he is walking this line when he says that ‘“order” is not the same as “orderly”; to the contrary, the term “order” implicitly also reflects the degree of disorder that inevitably exists. One can have world orders that are anything but stable or desirable’ (p. 18). This is a clear warning of what an order not led by the US might look like, which does leave the reader wondering just what kind of order it is, then, that is emerging. ‘Disorderly’ might be a fitting description—a sort of Hobbesian world in which nuclear proliferation, the collapse of states and mass migration continue unchecked. To answer the question of whether single political events, or developments in one country, such as the rise of populism or nationalism, can affect the international order as a whole, we turn to the work of Barry Buzan and George Lawson, which offers a more macrohistorical treatment of order formation and change. The authors argue that existing IR theories pay too little attention to changes in the density and connectedness of the international system over time. The ‘long nineteenth century’—from the American and French revolutions to the First World War—would provide a much more suitable grounding for IR. This was the period that ushered in ‘global modernity’, defined by the interconnection of industrialization, the emergence of rational states and ‘ideologies of progress’—most notably liberalism, nationalism, socialism and ‘scientific racism’ (The global transformation, p. 5). Global modernity ‘pulled the world into a single system, within which the consequences of the changes in the mode and distribution of power were widely and deeply felt’ (p. 2). Overlooking the historical specificity and significance of this period had set the whole discipline on tenuous foundations. Perhaps the most remarkable quality of The global transformation is the authors' successful synthesis of literatures and research findings from a broad range of disciplines—IR, economics, world history and historical sociology. They also provide a candid dissection of the intellectual roots of IR in scientific racism and imperialism, going as far as to suggest that the discipline, in its traditional self-conception, had deliberately ignored these inconvenient truths so as to be able to constitute itself as more ‘noble’—a cause taken up in the aftermath of the First World War with the aim of understanding and solving the problem of war (p. 326). The argument is compelling and clear, with few exceptions. One of the key concepts, the ‘mode of power’, remains imprecisely defined. It is introduced as ‘the material and ideational relations that are generative of both actors and the ways in which power is exercised’ (p. 1, fn. 2). Furthermore, changes in the mode of power are seen to be more significant than changes in the distribution of power. Although the authors assert that ‘ideational relations’ or ‘social sources’ (p. 307) are shaping the mode of power, the lack of operationalization of the concept in the main body of the book stops readers from retracing how, exactly, these sources of power worked to bring about global modernity. With respect to the contemporary world order, The global transformation suggests that we are currently in the third of three stages of global modernity. After two phases of ‘centred globalism’, the world is now entering the third stage of modernity, ‘decentred globalism’ (p. 273). Such a world, Buzan and Lawson assert, would have several Great Powers and many regional powers, but no superpowers, and the increasing destructive capacity of weapons brought about by global modernity would have made wars between these Great Powers obsolete (p. 277). As an illustration for the conditions under which such a ‘region-centred’ international society would operate, the authors list the workings of the EU and, as a starker example, Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 (p. 278). Even though the authors suggest that the continuation and intensification of modernity would increasingly challenge western dominance, they expect ideological divisions among major powers to diminish. Rather than the existential, zero-sum equation of ‘capitalism or not’, which had been the defining feature of the Cold War, they argue that the debate will now revolve around how to embed capitalism politically, with proponents of liberal and authoritarian modes of governance on either side (p. 281). This concerns only governance arrangements, however. In terms of the international order, authoritarian states ‘offer no systemic alternative for how global affairs might be organized’ (p. 189). If authoritarian capitalism can exist within a liberal democratic international order, and does not affect the order itself, or more precisely its ideational foundation, are there other ideological challenges that could cause this change? The main rivals to liberal democracy, Fukuyama argued in the early 1990s, would not pose much of a threat anymore. His brief survey of competing ideologies remains compelling. The first, fascism, was destroyed on a material level, but also in ideational terms. Due to its lack of success in Nazi Germany, ‘expansionist ultranationalism, with its promise of unending conflict leading to disastrous military defeat’, completely lost its appeal (‘The end of history?’, The National Interest, vol. 16, summer 1989, p. 9). The second, socialism, was rooted out together with the dismantling of the Soviet Union. A third potential competitor is religion. However, modern liberalism itself was historically a consequence of the weakness of religiously-based societies, which failed to provide even the minimal preconditions of peace and stability (The end of history?', p. 14). Assuming these challengers are out of the way, what alternatives to liberalism might emerge today? Among the ideologies of progress outlined by Buzan and Lawson, one in particular has gained traction in many parts of the world: nationalism—a threat also identified by Haass. Russia presents a stark example of a country where nationalism shapes not only the domestic sphere, but also external behaviour and conceptions of international order. Russian nationalism, which is commonly associated with the pan-nationalist variant of ‘Eurasianism’, has been posited as an ideological counterpart to western liberal democracy. One of its chief propagators is Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin. Influenced by writers such as Carl Schmitt, Karl Haushofer and Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Dugin's Eurasianism is a medley of anti-liberalism—an attempted integration of national-socialist, communist and traditionalist ideology—compounded with geopolitical and sociological theory. Opposition to US hegemony and western liberalism have generally become established elements of contemporary Russian foreign policy doctrine. Official documents express concerns not just about western hard power projection, but increasingly also about soft power, which is allegedly used to push former Soviet states on a liberal developmental path. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stated in no uncertain terms that time had proved wrong Fukuyama's ‘end of history’ concept, and that the rise of China, in particular, illustrates ‘the undeniable plurality of development models and excludes the boring uniformity implied by the western coordinate system’.3 Have these differences become so large, the ideological battles so intense, that we can no longer speak of a western liberal democratic international order? Fukuyama distinguishes between different degrees of nationalism, ranging from mild cultural nostalgia to the highly organized doctrine of national socialism, of which only the latter qualifies as a formal ideology on the same level as liberalism or communism. However, he is left as unconcerned by nationalism as he is by other ideologies competing with liberalism, arguing that most of the world's nationalist movements could not offer anything like a comprehensive agenda for socio-economic organization (‘The end of history?’, p. 14). Nationalist ideology, therefore, while it might be a source of conflict, does not necessarily have to be inherently incompatible with the liberal democratic order. Also, we might add that the nationalist challenge is not new, and has always been part of a pluralistic conception of order. As Buzan and Lawson maintain, nationalism, sovereignty and territoriality will remain widely held values, but the acceptance of this kind of ideological pluralism is perfectly compatible with international order (p. 301). Similarly, in International order in diversity, Andrew Phillips and J. C. Sharman suggest that diverse polity forms or ideologies do not necessarily preclude the existence of a common order. Their book, in the same vein as The global transformation, challenges the traditional conception of IR as a product of Westphalia. Focusing solely on the Indian Ocean region, the ‘centre of early modern globalization’, they show that diverse polity forms managed to produce a condition of ‘durable diversity’ in an international system that endured for over four centuries. Although their main variable is the polity—statist, imperial and corporate—the authors hold that individual actors' motivations and strategies (p. 105), and the formation and stabilization of a diverse regional system (p. 92) both rest on ideational and cultural foundations. Phillips and Sharman's questioning of ‘a deeper intuition within international relations, which implicitly links convergence and homogeneity with order, and conversely associates heterogeneity and institutional diversity with disorder’ (p. 222), provides some reassurance in times when divisions between ideologies and forms of government appear to be getting deeper. Their account illustrates how competition may fail to produce convergence towards a common polity form, and yet still yield a stable international order. In their case-study of the Indian Ocean region, they argue that stability was brought about by the very differences in the ends and means of polities. Due to their internal differences, polities could pursue mutually beneficial strategies, as they were able to escape the ‘zero-sum competitive logic that frequently defines relations between functionally equivalent like units’ (p. 6). However, polities still needed to possess sufficient congruence in beliefs concerning the conception of political authority. Individual actors achieved this congruence through reciprocal processes of localization. Broadly defined, localization refers to the symbolic legitimation of the European presence, or an ‘interactive process through which Europeans insinuated their way into local polities, acting alternatively as vassals, partners or suzerains depending on locally prevalent cultural scripts’ (p. 16). Polity leaders—even if they were as different as the Mughal emperor and the Dutch and English East India Company directors—were thus able to accept ‘shared and overlapping authority claims, according to which two rulers would hold different sovereign prerogatives over the same territory’ (p. 6). Their argument could be challenged by the fact that functionally similar units, such as sovereign nation-states, have been shown to be able to surmount the deadlock of zero-sum competition, too. More importantly, it should be noted that a zero-sum understanding of political competition is not necessarily incompatible with the emergence of order, as illustrated by the bipolar configuration of the Cold War—which, according to Haass, was one of the main sources of order in the aftermath of the Second World War. The point about the importance of a congruence in compatible beliefs concerning the organization of political authority will be shared by most theorists of international order, traditional or other. This is the normative consensus necessary to establish the ideational foundation that a sustainable international order requires. Their argument on heteronomy—the existence of multiple, overlapping and fluid authority structures within the same territory—presents an interesting insight into the dynamics of the Indian Ocean order, but is difficult to apply to our modern liberal democratic order, which is crucially dependent on the norms of sovereignty and territoriality. International order in diversity is wide-ranging and thought-provoking. By conceiving of order not just in terms of sovereign states, the authors identify similarities and differences in how polities have structured their interactions over millennia, in a way that traditional theories of order anchored in Westphalia cannot. Ultimately, though, the question is whether theirs is more of a story of institutional commonalities, compatible preferences and congruent beliefs regarding authority—and how these are necessary for the formation of order—rather than polity diversity. Also, when it comes to the empirical account of polity relations in the Indian Ocean, the book cannot do without employing the analytical tools of power politics. Material capabilities, such as more powerful armies and navies and more rapid technological innovation, play the decisive role. The description of the Mughal empire, for example, is based on its ‘preponderance of material power’ which allowed it to ‘set the terms of European engagement’ with much of the Indian Ocean system over the early modern period (p. 10). Furthermore, the Dutch and English East India Companies are described as being able to supplant the Portuguese state primarily due to the might of their private militaries (p. 125). If not the diversity of ideologies or polities or the competition between them, then what could cause the international order to become unstable? Based on the books under review, there are three ways in which the western liberal democratic order could come to an end. The first, and most obvious if we follow a traditional conception of international order, is hegemonic war. In any such hard-nosed realist account of change, the most obvious contender to US hegemony is China. Wild cards are a second potential cause of change in the international order. These are events or developments that would transform the human condition entirely. Buzan and Lawson suggest that the unintended consequences of new technologies, the side-effects of new forms of energy production, pandemics and changes to the climate fall into this category, as would the emergence of a new mode of power (p. 294). It is self-evident that a global disaster, such as a substantial rise in sea levels, would impact societies, institutions, states and political economies— although it is much harder to imagine exactly how. The third possibility is the emergence of a new ideational foundation, offering a viable alternative to western liberal democracy. Kissinger touches on this point in his latest book, when he says that there is another potential cause of change in world orders, apart from a significant shift in the balance of power: a redefinition of legitimacy, which ‘occurs when the values underlying international arrangements are fundamentally altered—abandoned by those charged with maintaining them or overturned by revolutionary imposition of an alternative concept of legitimacy’. The result of such an erosion of legitimacy is not simply a multipolarity of power, but ‘a world of increasingly contradictory realities’.4 Phillips echoes this assessment in an earlier work where, based on a combination of realist and constructivist concepts, he argues that orders could be brought down by both material and ideational factors: ‘international orders are transformed when they experience systemic legitimacy crises occasioned by a combination of institutional decay, disruptive military innovations, and ideological shocks that terminally destabilize existing social imaginaries and thus shatter the normative consensus on which international orders depend’.5 It is difficult to predict what the effect of such ‘ideological shocks’ might be, and what a new ideational foundation, or competing concept of legitimacy, might look like. However, if we work backwards and assume that this new foundation is a response to a crisis of western liberal democracy, we may be able to identify some of its characteristics. Chris Brown, in a 1994 article, suggests that the discourses of modernity—the varieties of social and political thought dominant in the West since the Enlightenment—are in crisis, because the grounds of knowledge have disappeared (‘“Turtles all the way down”: anti-foundationalism, critical theory and International Relations’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies 23: 2, 1994, p. 214). Modern thought, in this way ungrounded in knowledge, would threaten reason and rationality themselves. Nietzsche, according to Brown, had prefigured this ‘anti-foundationalism’. His tale of the ‘last man’ provides a devastating account of the impoverished world that an excessive dependence ‘on the supposedly liberating force of rationality’ had created (‘“Turtles all the way down”’, p. 216). Nietzsche's last men are the inhabitants of Fukuyama's post-historic world. They would find ‘the life of masterless slavery—the life of rational consumption—in the end, boring. They will want to have ideals by which to live and die, even if the largest ideals have been substantively realized here on earth, and they will want to risk their lives even if the international state system has succeeded in abolishing the possibility of war’ (The end of history and the last man, p. 314). This is the contradiction that, according to Fukuyama, liberal democracy has not yet solved. Rather than simply accepting their state of bored complacency, the last men would rise and turn against the democratic and egalitarian values that had brought on their boredom. In the resulting empires of resentment, the last men would fight to reclaim the recognition post-historical society had taken away from them; ‘boredom … might get … history started again’ (‘The end of history’, p. 18). Fukuyama remains abstract for a reason, staying away from attempting to delineate the precise material conditions that could restart history. His text is about the triumph of the western liberal idea—the ‘end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of western liberal democracy as the final form of human government’ (‘The end of history?’, p. 2). His argument is, therefore, not nearly as far-fetched as some commentators have made it seem. Boredom is dissatisfaction with the ideational foundation provided by liberal democracy. The boringness of human existence would bring about nostalgia for past times, when history still existed. Such nostalgia would continue to fuel competition and conflict even in the post-historical world. Considerations such as these can supplement material or empirical accounts of order and change. To answer the question of whether any fundamental contradictions remain that liberal democracy cannot solve, it is not sufficient ‘to look around the world for empirical evidence of challenges to democracy, since this evidence would always be ambiguous and potentially deceptive’. The collapse of communism, for example, could not be taken as sufficient proof that no future challenges to democracy are possible. ‘Rather’, Fukuyama concludes, ‘we need a trans-historical standard against which to measure democratic society, some concept of “man as man” that would allow us to see its potential defects. It was for that reason that we turned to the “first men” of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Hegel’ (The end of history and the last man, p. 288). And boredom might have concrete effects on the material realities of international politics. Fukuyama gives the example of the First World War. Most interpretations of the causes of the war stressed German militarism and nationalism, the breakdown of the European balance of power, the increasing rigidity of the alliance system, the incentives placed on the pre-emption and aggression and recklessness of individual leaders. However, according to Fukuyama, there is another story to be told: ‘many European publics simply wanted war because they were fed up with the dullness and lack of community in civilian life’. After a century of peace since the last major European conflict, the pro-war demonstrations of 1914 could be seen ‘in some measure as rebellions against that middle-class civilization, with its security, prosperity, and lack of challenge … On a mass scale, megalothymia reappeared: not the megalothymia of individual princes, but of entire nations that sought recognition of their worth and dignity’ (p. 331). So boredom is also a psychological state: a condition that makes people long for change by any means. At its root is the feeling of being overwhelmed by a complex environment, the perceived inability to change one's circumstances or even to pinpoint what is causing one to be bored, ultimately resulting in a tendency to look to outside factors to blame for one's despair. Boredom, in this sense, is not antithetical to anger or frustration. Rather, the latter are outgrowths of the former. Unsurprisingly, these mental processes seem to describe well the standard image of a supporter of a right-wing populist movement.6 These mental images, of ‘boredom at the end of history’, of ‘last men’ and ‘empires of resentment’, help us get a sense of the defining characteristics of the kind of ideational foundations that could challenge western liberal democracy. Such a struggle, an attack on liberalism, would not aim to replace it with another ideology of progress—but challenge the very notion of ideologies of progress and the rational state, which underpins them. In The global transformation ideologies of progress are defined as ‘systematic schemas of thought, specifically modern liberalism, socialism, nationalism and scientific racism, which were rooted in ideals of progress and, in particular, associated with Enlightenment notions of classification, improvement and control’ (p. 7). To do away with these ideologies of progress, reason itself has to regress into superstition and myth, out of which it had emerged in the first place. For now, we continue to live in Fukuyama's post-historic world. The year 2016 did not herald the emergence of his ‘empires of resentment’, and neither did any of the other major or minor political upheavals of the post-Cold War years. But if the end of the end of history ever does roll around, Fukuyama might have given us a very good idea of what it could look like. In the absence of any just cause to struggle for, men would start to struggle against the just cause. They would struggle for the sake of struggling—struggle ‘out of a certain boredom’. ‘And if the greater part of the world in which they live is characterized by peaceful and prosperous liberal democracy, then they will struggle against that peace and prosperity, and against democracy’ (p. 330). But not yet. Until hegemonic war breaks out, global catastrophes occur or a new ideational foundation emerges, we have no reason to declare the end of liberal democracy and the order it upholds. Twenty-five years on, The end of history is still a worthwhile read. It shows that there is another way of thinking about international order in philosophical and psychological terms that is at least as instructive as Haass's systemic account of power and change, Phillips and Sharman's study of diverse polity types and order, and Buzan and Lawson's work on the impact of modernity. Fukuyama's basic point, that liberal democracy presents the ideal form of human government, still stands. In his more recent work, he further fortifies this thesis, arguing that the norms and institutions of liberal democracy are universally appealing, which is why they are so durable7—as a form of government, but also as an ideology underpinning the international order. Scholars writing on the topic of international order—those reviewed here and others—seem to agree that there exists some form of ideational foundation, like liberal democracy, that grants legitimacy to the order. Order is not just the result of a hierarchy of power, but obeys a functional logic. The works reviewed here show that it is well worth looking beyond the traditional teleology of IR which privileges the sovereign state, and develop novel perspectives on order and change. They further demonstrate the expediency of historical social science, as well as the potency of cross-disciplinary approaches in IR. And they lay open the difficulties the discipline still has with addressing systemic change. The authors illustrate the need for a larger conceptual framework, including both material, ideational and psychological factors, to be able to distinguish between the necessary and accidental conditions for change in the international order. 1 Robert Gilpin, War and change in world politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), fn 25. 2 Gilpin, War and change in world politics, p. 26. 3 Sergei Lavrov, ‘Russia's foreign policy in a historical perspective: musings at a new stage of international development’, Russia in Global Affairs, vol. 2, March 2016. 4 Henry Kissinger, World order (New York: Penguin, 2015), p. 365. 5 Andrew Phillips, War, religion and empire: the transformation of international orders (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 43. 6 In fact, another recent study makes this very connection and found that extreme political orientations are, in part, a function of boredom's existential qualities: Wijnand A. P. Van Tilburg and Eric R. Igou, ‘Going to political extremes in response to boredom’, European Journal of Social Psychology 46: 6, 2016. 7 Francis Fukuyama, Political order and political decay: from the Industrial Revolution to the globalisation of democracy (London: Profile Books, 2014). © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Institute of International Affairs. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

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International AffairsOxford University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2018

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