Bull's The Anarchical Society is a ground-breaking book that proposes novel, powerful concepts for reading today's world order as well as the order that prevailed in the world in 1977. Today more than ever, we need the idea of international society, even if it has to be revisited to fit the realities of the 21st century
[...] Yet, only a few pages later, Bull speaks of function of symbolising the existence of the society of states, and beyond it of the element of unity in the political organisation of mankind'. So, it would appear, diplomacy serves both ‘states' and ‘mankind'. This stance is increasingly untenable in our contemporary world. Today, states have an ever-growing need of all kinds of diplomacy: unilateral diplomacy is used to solve border issues, for instance. Multilateral diplomacy is brilliantly represented at the United Nations and at numerous international conferences. [...]
[...] Today's world, on the other hand, provides the right framework for the enactment of international society. This leads me to consider the usefulness of Bull's book in 2002: how does it fit today's context, and what are the results produced by this interaction? The impact of globalisation: toward a more unified international society? Towards the end of the book, Bull indulges into what perhaps appeared at the time as wishful thinking: ‘What we have in mind by a states system that is ideologically homogeneous is one in which states are united ( by determination to uphold a single kind of political, social and economic system. [...]
[...] Where does anarchy fit in? At first glance, judging by the title, one could have expected the idea of anarchy to be at least as important to Bull as was that of society. Yet, all our preconceptions all seem to be proved wrong: on the one hand, Bull makes a very original use of the idea of ‘society' a concept that one might have deemed relatively shallow as I have tried to show; on the other hand, if one expected a great deal on ‘anarchical', one is somewhat disappointed, as little is said on exactly to what extent international society is anarchical. [...]
[...] He, too, came up with his own idea of international society: diagnostic est peut-être erroné, mais je dirais que, si la mondialisation peut être considérée comme le stade ultime de l'époque planétaire, qui commence au 16ème siècle avec la conquête, la prédation, l'esclavage, aujourd'hui, la mondialisation est le stade premier de l'émergence d'une société-monde, inégalement embryonnaire' (Entretien au Monde, dimanche 23- lundi 24 décembre 2001, p. 12)). Although Bull never pinpoints the cultural or political substance of international society, the thorough use of the concept he makes opens fantastic vistas. Two examples illustrate the far-reaching implications of this original approach to international relations: first, the way Bull analyses international law and war tells us a great deal about the way international society functions; second, how we can fit his general theory into a realist/idealist debate will help us apprehend the scope of his approach. [...]
[...] As Thomas Friedman wittily puts it in The Lexus and the Olive Tree, ‘when it comes to the question of which system today is the most effective at generating rising standards of living, the historical debate is over. The answer is free- market capitalism ( .). So, ideologically speaking, there is no more chocolate chip, there is no more strawberry swirl, and there is no more lemon-lime. Today there is only free-market capitalism and North Korea'. But as far as political and social systems go, though, the debate is far from being over. [...]
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