The Strategy of World Order - Vol. 1

By Richard A. Falk; Saul H. Mendlovitz | Go to book overview

3
The Nature of International Society

This chapter completes the task of establishing a setting appropriate for the study of how international society might be transformed to reduce the risks of the outbreak of World War III. The selections in Section A depict the main attributes and tendencies of international political life at the present time. In particular, emphasis is put upon the relative roles played in world politics by such varied actors as states, blocs, regional organizations, and the United Nations. This helps to clarify some of the connections between the locus of power and the structure of order in the international system. It also reflects a befief that it is necessary to comprehend and trasform power, rather than ignore it, if the study of war prevention is to be responsibly carried forth.

In Section B, the selections discuss the character and contribution of disciplined inquiry into the more descriptive material covered by the authors read in Section A. In the social sciences it is common to identify such concerns as "methodology." The objective is to relate method to the substantive concerns of the book--namely, patterns of interstate conflict, the regulation of violence, and the enhancement of world order. In the background of these considerations lurks the skeptical question concerning the degree to which what we think and what we know can be brought to bear significantly upon what we do. There is also present the question of whether the acquisition of knowledge is a cumulative, and not only an accumulative, process; do we in fact know more today about international conflict than we did some centuries ago when Machiavelli, or even longer ago, when Thucydides lived, analyzed, and prescribed? We have more information, of course, but do we have any better grasp of the bases of political behavior or of how to use our knowledge to promote our goals? In a book investigating a proposal for a drastic change in the character of world order it is very importtant to face honestly and directly both the limits of our knowledge and the limits of our ability to translate knowledge into behavior. Some clarification of the philosophic issue involved is to be found in Stuart Hampshire Thought and Action ( Viking Press, New York, 1960); a quite different view of the relation of

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