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Social structures and geopolitical systems: A critique of the Realist theory of International Relations.

Rosenberg, Justin (1993) Social structures and geopolitical systems: A critique of the Realist theory of International Relations. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis provides a critique of, and an alternative to, the Realist school of International Relations theory. Rejecting the Realist starting point of the condition of anarchy among states, it argues instead for the importance of wider social structures in determining the social form of geopolitical systems. The method used is the historical materialism of Marx - in particular his injunction to examine how 'the direct relationship of the owners of the conditions of production to the direct producers' underlies the form of the state. Following an opening interrogation of Realism, this method is used to explore several premodern geopolitical systems. In each case, attention is drawn to the correspondence between the form of the geopolitical system and the character of the societies composing it. This correspondence is then used to mount historical explanations which contrast strongly with those supplied by a Realist treatment. The tools forged in these historical explorations are next turned onto the contemporary international system. Two main conclusions result. First, the distinctive properties of the sovereign states-system are to be understood by examining their correspondence to 'the direct relationship of the owners of the conditions of production to the direct producers' in the leading capitalist societies which dominate the system. This argument includes a formal redefinition of the two core categories of Realist theory. 'Sovereignty' is redefined as the abstracted political form of the state under capitalism, while 'anarchy' is rediscovered as the form of social connectedness peculiar to capitalism which Marx describes as 'personal independence based on dependence mediated by things'. The second conclusion is that the history of the emergence of the modern international system is to be found in those historical processes of social change which generalized the capital-labour relation - processes focussed above all on the expropriation of the direct producer.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, International Law and Relations
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/1316

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