This study has ranged over a fairly wide terrain but it has sought to maintain a focus throughout upon the interaction between revolutionary states and the sovereignty-based notion of international society that has been termed here the 'Westphalian conception of international society'. In the broadest sense, this interaction has involved a dialectic between the Westphalian conception and the two alternative formulations of international society that have been described here as the 'universal society' and the 'great community'. Both of these offer fundamental challenges to the Westphalian conception since they call into question its doctrinal corner-stone: the idea of sovereignty. A further dialectic has taken place within the revolutionary state itself, between its revolutionary identity and its statehood.
The term 'dialectic' implies an ongoing tension between ideas, and it is the existence of both types of dialectic that has meant that revolutionary states frequently bring in their wake a major disturbance to international order. Order was defined in the Introduction to this study as denoting:
stability and regularity in the pattern of assumptions, rules, and practices that are accepted as legitimate among the members of a given society and that concern the mechanisms of and limits to the process of change within that society.
Every aspect of this conception of order as applied to international relations has been contested by revolutionary states. Almost by definition, such states have been disturbers of 'stability and regularity' in many existing patterns of things, but they have posed a particular challenge to the underlying set of 'assumptions, rules, and practices' by which the society of states has conducted its affairs. An orderly society is not one that permits no change but one possessing recognized procedures for change that are seen to be effective by its members. But demands for change that go far