The Communist International System

The Communist International System

The Communist International System

The Communist International System

Excerpt

The analysis we have undertaken indicates that the contemporary Communist system contains, in a primitive form, all the necessary features of an international system: it aspires to universality; its segmentation pattern favors the preservation of the independence of its members; its relative isolation indicates strong boundary-maintaining characteristics; its internal differentiation reveals the rudiments of the mechanisms required for the performance of the essential functions of the system. Finally, the system manifests both co-operation and conflict; it harbors the "seeds of war" and, in the event of a failure of the mechanisms of "conflict-containment," the seeds of its own destruction.

Throughout this argument we have never once maintained that the Communist system, as of this moment, "is" an international system, but we have argued consistently that it has the characteristics of the core or nucleus of an international system -- capable, under favorable conditions, of expanding to include the whole membership of the present-day Western system. For the record, let us clarify the grounds for dismissing the notion that, as of now, the Communist system is an international system. These are two: (1) it is not universal -- that is, its "full" membership does not include all or most of the world's states; (2) its tendency toward universal expansion and its involvement in the affairs of the non-Communist world preclude effective isolation.

The first of these points is fundamental. As of this moment the states and parties which compose the Communist system are manifestly not universal. An international system never in fact approaches complete universality, and events along its boundary always exercise a profound influence upon its workings, but in a meaningful sense it does embrace the bulk of one "civilized world." Hence, there is a logical difficulty in conceiving of one international system existing within another. For, even though they seek to overthrow it, most of the members of the Communist system also constitute, in one form or another, members of the "other," older, "Western" international system. Membership in the Communist system does not at present preclude participation in the Western system (even though there has been and remains significant resistance to accepting "orthodox" Communist states as full-fledged members). Thus the only solution to the impossibility of conceiving of one international system as existing within another is to envisage the Communist states and parties as forming the core or nucleus or, possibly, the "provisional elite" or "ruling class" of a different, alternative, international system. Or, to use Khrushchev's image once again, the "vessel" already exists, but it has not yet filled up.

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