The Strategy of World Order - Vol. 1

By Richard A. Falk; Saul H. Mendlovitz | Go to book overview
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B. Differing Methods of Viewing the World

It is perhaps trivial to emphasize the extent to which assumptions about the proper method to study the world shape the way we view the world. Some background for these matters is to be found in Karl Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia translated by L. Wirth and E. Shils, ( Harcourt, Brace, New York, 1959). Matters of method are usually kept implicit and hidden. In this section we explore some key methodological questions for their own sake and to make evident the relevance of methodological choices to substantive outcomes. Therefore, these selections are a natural complement to the readings of Section A.

Our more ambitious objective here is to encourage readers to think throughout the book about whether the methods of inquiry used by various authors are adequate for their stated purposes. And in particular, whether there are any methodological conclusions about the proper way to study proposals for drastic change in international society. Clark and Sohn do not devote much attention to explaining their method. Could this account for their failure to devote sufficient attention to the refractory nature of the transition problem? What methodological assumptions must be introduced so that adequate attention could be given to the processes of social and structural transformation in international society? Note that what we seek to investigate is a new system of world order established in the near future. What do we know about system change? Is it more likely to Come about slowly through time or all at once? Some have said that a drastic change in the character of world order can only come about as the aftermath of catastrophe. It is obviously in the interest of mankind to make whatever changes are necessary without the persuasiveness of a catastrophe itself.

The typically skeptical view of proposals for system change in international society has been recently expressed by Thornton Read in Military Policy in a Changing Political Context, Policy Memorandum no. 31 (Center for International Studies, Princeton University, 1964) pp. 4-5:

Whatever may be the ultimate prospect of a radical change in the international system and the emergence of a World Federal Government, a radical change in the distribution of power in the short term would surely be either the cause or the consequence of a disaster. The social- political world is in this respect analogous to the world of living organisms: degeneration may take place either gradually or suddenly, but healthy growth is always gradual.

Read goes on to quote Herman Kahn's pungent complaint

-230-

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