Revolution and World Order: The Revolutionary State in International Society

By David Armstrong | Go to book overview

6 Norms, Rules, and Laws

The Nature and Sources of International Law

Order in social life generally is upheld by a wide range of different kinds of rules which in turn are supported by various distinct networks of social relationships. The 'law of the land', the most important of these systems of rules, is upheld by a structure of relationships involving legislature, judiciary, police, and populace. At a more informal level, a particular society's notions of what constitutes correct personal conduct are upheld by various smaller groups of family, friends, tribes, neighbours, colleagues, etc. Complex systems of rewards, ranging from national recognition to peer group approval, and punishments, ranging from death to the incurring of personal shame or dishonour, help to socialize individuals into behaviour that is in accordance with these different sets of rules.

In international society the nature, significance, and content of rules of state behaviour are more controversial matters. Even their existence may be disputed. In the absence of an authoritative law-making body, violation of whose edicts incurs sanctions which are enforced by courts and police forces, it has been argued that international law is not really 'law proper' but merely a set of moral injunctions. 1 Similarly, former American Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, asserted in 1963 that discussion of the legality of American actions during the Cuban Missile Crisis of the previous year was not well founded because 'much of what is known as international law is a body of ethical distillation' rather than true law. 2 Moreover, while one of the functions of law inside a state

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Revolution and World Order: The Revolutionary State in International Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Revolution and World Order iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Westphalian Conception of International Society 12
  • 2: State and People the American Revolution 42
  • 3: State and Nation the French Revolution 79
  • 4: State and Class the Russian Revolution 112
  • 5: The Revolt Against the West and International Society 158
  • 6: Norms, Rules, and Laws 199
  • 7: Diplomacy 244
  • 8: Statecraft and the Balance of Power 273
  • Conclusion 299
  • Bibliography 312
  • Index 325
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