Rethinking International Relations

Rethinking International Relations

Rethinking International Relations

Rethinking International Relations

Synopsis

Rethinking International Relations is both an argument for a fresh theoretical approach to International Relations and an application of that theory to the changes in the international system brought about by the end of the Cold War. Fred Halliday's wide-ranging review identifies an impasse in International Relations theory: if debate has long revolved around the question of the state, and around a set of methodological issues, Halliday seeks to break through this double impasse by a new theorization of the role of the state, and by a critique of major contenders in the analytic field -- English realism, American behaviouralism, neo-realism, and post-modernism. By critical discussions of a range of questions -- state, society, revolution, women -- and a reconsideration of the place of Marxism in the study of the 'international,' the author advances an argument that is both theoretically innovative and which encompasses the major upheavals of the past decade. Rethinking International Relations opens a new chapter both in International Relations theory and in our understanding of contemporary international politics.

Excerpt

The chapters in this book are elements of a double response -- to developments in political and social theory and in the academic study of International Relations, and to changes in the international system itself over the past years, most particularly the collapse of the Soviet bloc. in this sense, and in what may be a reversal of conventional practice, the general, and in part theoretical, reflections follow from a number of more concrete studies of the international system and of the central conflicts within it which I have already published, most specifically The Making of the Second Cold War (1983) and Cold War, Third World (1989) and a number of third world case studies. in so doing, I hope not merely to extend these reflections on International Relations, but also to draw out assumptions and questions which were, to a greater or lesser extent, present within them. International Relations, like all branches of knowledge, faces two dangers -- that of factual accounts devoid of theoretical reflection, explanatory or ethical, and that of theorising unanchored in, or tested by, the analysis of history itself. My hope is that these essays, as responses to ideas and to events, will find a passage between these two dangers. While making some general observations on the nature of the international system and of where analysis of it may proceed, I have also examined some more particular issues. My intention is to follow this overview of the subject with two further theoretical and historical volumes, one on the role of revolutions in the international system, the other on the ethical tension between nationalism and internationalism.

In preparing these essays I have benefited from the stimulation and criticism of many friends and colleagues over the past decade. in particular I would like to thank my colleagues and students in the International Relations (IR) Department at the London School of Economics (LSE) who have, through individual contacts and through the General Seminar in ir, provided many a challenge and stimulus. Martina Langer of the International Relations Department was ever helpful and speedy in helping with . . .

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