Reflection Paper

Reflection Paper

Attempts to explain the global realm nature and character have led to the development of different theories. Sovereign states retain their central position as the main actors in the international relations arena in almost all the approaches including even a campaign of some theorists to alter or decline the power of states. This is evidenced by the reliance on countries by those seeking to change politics so as to concentrate more on humanity rather than purely nations concerns’ and their doctrines implementation. The need for a better approach in international relations is evident to the majority of theorists of the different schools of thoughts and supported by new interstates relations and other international issues. Even without abandoning rational preferences, there exists a need for a more accurate theoretical evaluation of the nature and character of international relations. The English School represents one of the theories with the potential to challenge the fragmentation that smites international relations. As such, it was expected that the English School would examine the global arena by focusing on either one or a limited number of issues like the majority of other theories do. However, according to this reading, the English School is more or less a via media between revolutionism and realism.

Instead of focusing on one unit so as to take part in the tedious international relations theories competition, the English School intentionally steps out of the game and cultivates a more holistic and integrated approach to the evaluation of international relations politics. Its original articulation supports the ideas of the traditional theoretical schools as evidenced by its attempt to incorporate realism and liberalism, typical for two of three major theories that focus on international outcomes (Linklater, 2013). To integrate these principles, the English School theorists needed to come up with a strategy to bring together the realist conception of the international system nature of conflict and the co-operative aspects of international relations (Linklater, 2013). As a result, they came up with the idea of three separate spheres that determine simultaneously the international politics. Consequently, this international relations (IR) theory is based on a tripartite distinction among world society, international society, and the international system (Linklater, 2013). These spheres corresponds with Wight’s realism, rationalism, and revolutionism traditional IR theory though having a less obvious parallelism in its original formulation (Buzan, 2001).

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International system is understood to refer to power politics that exists between various sovereign states. Therefore, structures and processes of international anarchy are placed in the center of the IR theory by realism (Buzan, 2001). International society, in its turn, appeared to be referred to as the institutionalization of shared interest and identity amongst all nations (Buzan, 2001). Unlike international system where international anarchy is in the center of the theory, rationalism considers shared norms, rules, and institutions to be the core of the IR theory. Obviously, the English School has been focusing more on international society which explains the relatively well-developed concept. Lastly, the world society views the global population as a whole as the center of global identities and arrangements (Buzan, 2001). As a result, transcendence of the state system occupies the main position in the IR theory (Linklater, 2013). Evidentially, revolutionism is concerned mainly with forms of universalist cosmopolitanism, but it could also include communism and liberalism as commonly understood by the current generation.

As observed above, the English School seems to incorporate realism postulates, but combines them with human-centered notions from the domestic politics sphere. Such an interaction is evidenced by the emphasis placed on the primacy of states interacting with an archaic system but with the appreciation that international relations cannot be clearly understood solely in terms of anarchy (Linklater, 2013). Therefore, the most important element of this international relation theory is based on realism or international system and revolutionism or world society. However, the two concepts exist in the via media theory when it comes to the interpretation of international society (Linklater, 2013). Pluralism characterizes the first notion with more emphasis being placed on the realistic understanding of the field as contained in the traditional IR conception. Although this approach considers the state conduct within anarchy, it also takes notice of countries’ cooperation despite the dominance of self-interest (Buzan, 2001). Moreover, although pluralism places constraints on violence, it does not go as far as outlawing the use of force (Buzan, 2001). In any case, realists consider war to be both an instrument of foreign policy and a critical mechanism that sustains the balance of power by resisting challenges that launch assaults on the international society (Buzan, 2001). The English School corresponds with the traditional IR framework based on this close resemblance to the realist theory.

According to Linklater, solidarists represent the second interpretation of the international society (2013). Evidentially, their concept has been interpreted in numerous ways due to its ability to incorporate different IR theories. However, solidarists primarily place more emphasis on world society and international society relationship. Considering that they focus on how individuals within the states influence the conduct of the corresponding societies, this approach seems to concentrate on the liberal understanding of IR (Linklater, 2013). This concept creates room for other ideas such as human rights and individual security that are dominant in the society today. Barry Buzan presents an argument suggesting that solidarists’ account of international society has been used by those who want to maintain state in their theory but, at the same time, find a way of incorporating critical human and global concerns (2001). From any perspective, it is clear that this argument places emphasis on global pattern and international communication and resonates with globalization literature (Linklater, 2013). The term ‘society’ may have only been used in this theory as an attempt to distance itself from state-centric IR models.

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The English School proponents’ interest in processes with the potential to transform systems of states into societies of states has gained popularity since the end of the Second World War. This development is illustrated in the contemporary debates and political interest of the United States which echoes the English School’s long discussion on the relative importance of system, society, and community in international affairs. Presumably, continued success and adoption of the English School ideology in diplomacy and society of states’ interaction will lead to emergence of norms and institutions capable of preventing collapse of civility and the reemergence of unchecked powers. International community under the United Nations umbrella will take advantage of such more detailed theories in dealing with emerging international issues and resolving interstates conflicts without necessary resulting in war

Contrary to my expectation to read about another theory that focuses on one aspect when analyzing global issues, the English School theorists attempt to bring together the unrelated approaches to international relations. Its ability to embrace pluralism, historicism in its endeavor to interlink international system, international society, and world society make it look like a vital via media between realism and revolutionism. In any case, advancement in human rights protection cannot be expected to occur in the absence of international order. Moreover, the English School offers better intervention strategies in case of human rights violation while, at the same time, respecting the sovereignty of the involved states. It also represents a more coherent and advantageous approach to achieving an extensive and complicated understanding of current international social-political issues. Furthermore, whereas domestic politics may be accountable for the sphere of good life, international politics dominates the realm of security and survival.


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