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Hate the cover. A must read for any student of international relations, and the foundational text of the English School. It is flawed especially chapter 4 on the relationship between order and justice But this is the first book that develops what I would call a sociology of international relations Another must read for those wishing to study IR theory. Disclaimer This is a snapshot of my thoughts on this book after just reading it This is not meant to serve as a summary of main supporting points or a critique only as some words on how I engaged with this book for the purposes of building a theoretical framework on strategy Hedley Bull presents a dialectic perspective on world politics that pulls between two poles of realism and, in my perception, idealism His book is a great brainstorm of possible options to solve for international ana Disclaimer This is a snapshot of my thoughts on this book after just reading it This is not meant to serve as a summary of main supporting points or a critique only as some words on how I engaged with this book for the purposes of building a theoretical framework on strategy Hedley Bull presents a dialectic perspective on world politics that pulls between two poles of realism and, in my perception, idealism His book is a great brainstorm of possible options to solve for international anarchy, with his solution being a thin pluralist international society of states viii However, even while proposing this as a solution, he wrestles with its viability throughout the book, articulating potential alternatives and flaws This book serves as a profound look into international politics without marrying itself to either pessimism or optimism Bull clearly hopes for an international society that is self governing, but also realizes that the necessary impetuses for such a society may or may not be present This book is ultimately a book about fairness in the management of world order much of Bull s language encircles the ideas of values and morality, with world order being the enabler of morality and possibly a morality in of itself The balance of power should rather be understood as a conscious and continuing shared practice in which the actors constantly debate and contest the meaning of the balance of power, its ground rules, and the role that it should play xx Bull s core definition of international society highlights shared conceptions of interests and common values and the shared consciousness of being bound by legal and moral rules xxiii.Bull is very clear about operationalizing definitions such as international order and great powers His clarity in how he builds his argument helps in understanding how he sees the interaction between states and how the great powers might provide a balanced structure for the lesser states to work within War is not evil, or necessarily some to avoid, but may in fact be a mechanism of maintaining order and the values the international society or world order desire to uphold World order accounts not only for states, but for non states as well Bull tends to believe an international order already exists to some degree, but that a proactive management and understanding of its variables would help great powers to understand the important role they play in its maintenance, as well as to accept the role of regional powers in the club of great powers.To me, Hedley Bull s theory leans too far into hope He assumes that all great powers have complementary goals, or at least goals that can be played off of each other in such a way as to maintain international order Even further, he assumes the possibility of an internationally accepted morality with diplomats and world lawyers to hold states accountable to such a morality What he does not recognize is the inherent cognitive biases of states Jervis Kahneman Khong , the fear that asymmetric information causes Brauer van Tuyll Jervis , and the conflict between paradigms Kuhn that may cause such friction between great powers that they may not be willing to accept their position among each other in the international order for the long term While in an ideal society, it makes sense to maintain order, Waltz identified that the three images of man, the state, and the system of states all birth conflict out of what otherwise might have been peace Again, according to Bull, war is not necessarily a bad thing, but when great powers go to war, they disrupt the society that Bull proposes, and what might have seemed a moral ideal to one group of states the Axis powers may fundamentally conflict with another group of states the Allied powers.This is a rich book that I appreciated reading While the idea of solving for Waltz s third image is appealing, it would take an external agency to force great powers to accept their relative role in such a system, accept either the idea of self help or external pressure, and then trust other states to have the interest of the international society at heart I am pessimistic about such a possibility, even if Earth itself faced an existential threat The Australian academic Hedley Bull, in his seminal book The Anarchical Society, writes about international systems and international society It is a distinction with a difference An international system is what exists absent any policy decisions countries and other entities along with various forces simply interact with and affect one another There is little or nothing in the way of choice or regulation or principles or rules What distinguishes an international society from a system is tha The Australian academic Hedley Bull, in his seminal book The Anarchical Society, writes about international systems and international society It is a distinction with a difference An international system is what exists absent any policy decisions countries and other entities along with various forces simply interact with and affect one another There is little or nothing in the way of choice or regulation or principles or rules What distinguishes an international society from a system is that a society reflects a degree of buy in on the part of its participants, including an acceptance of limits on what is either sought or discouraged, how it is to be sought or discouraged, or both Elements of a society exist when governments do not use force to resolve disputes, instead turning to diplomacy, or,positively, when they observe established rules on trade and band together to address climate change, refugees, proliferation, and terrorism.In the international sphere, the notion of society as described by Bull has specific meaning First, the principal citizens of this society are countries Second, a founding principle of this society is that the governments and leaders who oversee the countries are essentially free to act as they wish within their own borders How those individuals come to occupy positions of authority, be it by birth, revolution, elections, or some other means, matters not Third, the members of this international society respect and accept this freedom of action on the part of others in exchange for others in turn accepting that they can act as they wish within their own borders and also the existence of other members of this society It is not far off to describe this approach to international relations as a live and let live cross border understanding.The title The Anarchical Society captures the essence of the book, namely, that at any moment in history there are forces promoting anarchy in the world and forces promoting society The words chaos and disorder could be substituted for anarchy, and order for society, but whatever the choice of words, the idea could not be clearer What gives any moment or era of history its character is the balance between these forces Indeed, it is akin to the balance sheet of a business, but instead of revenues and expenses, or assets and liabilities, what is at issue is the combined strength of those forces tearing the world apart as opposed to those bringing it together A classic of International Relations theory written in clear and understandable prose Bull proceeds systematically in his analysis of the international society of states, but in the end although self acknowledged becomes a little too defensive of the state system, demonstrating perhaps a lack of political imagination Despite being written in 1977, and therefore overly focused on bipolarity and nuclear warfare, much of the discussion is still relevant today. |Read ☪ The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics ♑ The Anarchical Society is one of the masterworks of political science and the classic text on the nature of order in world politics Originally published in , it continues to define and shape the discipline of international relations This edition has been updated with a new, interpretive foreword by Andrew Hurrell Bull explores three fundamental questions What is order in world politics How is order maintained in the contemporary states system What alternative paths to world order are desirable and feasible Laws and institutions, Bull points out, shift and change over time The Anarchical Society addresses the unwritten rules which have allowed international order to exist across the ages I m not giving this any rating because I only read the first 20 pages or so and quickly realized that, for my purposes, it was no longer timely I have no problems rating a book I only read 20 pages in and stop reading because I don t like it but that was not the case here. Imaginative but sober, an excellent and underappreciated perspective long neglected by American IR As Barry Buzan has written, the English school offers a complete worldview that may bridge the myopic and implausible neo classical debates. Dry but good.