A common dilemma for a revolutionary state is to find itself in a relationship with international society that is profoundly ambiguous, if not entirely paradoxical. The belief system on which its revolution was founded and which legitimized the assumption of state power by the revolutionary élite is certain to run counter to the prevailing political doctrines of most other states, many of which may represent the 'old regime' values against which the revolution was aimed. The notion that, simply by virtue of being a state, the revolutionary state has joined an international society in which it is expected to share certain interests, rules, and norms and co-operate in the working of certain common institutions with 'old regime' states is likely to seem unacceptable to the revolutionary leaders.
The immediate response of the revolutionary state to this dilemma may be to reject, if not seek to overturn, what it is likely to perceive as an unequal, oppressive, and immoral structure of international authority, devised by the established powers in their own interests. Or it may react more ambivalently by seeking to avoid contamination by the outside world at the same time as attempting to restructure it in its own image. But whether its reaction to the international society is to seek world revolution, isolation, or international reform, from the moment a revolution assumes the form of statehood, it encounters strong pressures to conform to the conventions of the society of states: to become 'socialized'.
In essence, this study asks: to what extent do revolutionary states succeed in altering the international society of which they find themselves members, and to what extent does it succeed in 'socializing' them? On what basis can international order be built in a world where revolutionary states may even deny the very existence of a society of states with common interests, rules, and institutions? Do revolutionary states inevitably constitute a serious challenge to