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The English school's belief that states belong to an international society but will probably never belong to a global community is far too pessimistic.

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Stud no 033023803 The English school's belief that states belong to an international society but will probably never belong to a global community is far too pessimistic. Before I begin to analyse the question I feel it is important to fully comprehend it's meaning and to see whether it entails any particular arguments. There are two main concepts within the question. The first concept is that of an 'international society' and this concept is associated with the English school theory of international relations. When thinking about the other concept, a global community, cosmopolitanism, idealism and Kantian ideas comes to mind but it is not as clearly associated. The first task is to define an 'international society' from the perspective of the English school. The concept is sometimes referred to as the 'society of states'. The definition has varied at different points in history when referring to different systems but Hedley Bull of the English school puts the contemporary definition best. Firstly he suggests that an international society cannot be achieved without an international system. An international system is when two or more states have an impact on each other's decisions. This is on a much simpler level than a society of states. For Bull a society of states exists when a group of states, conscious of certain common interests and common values form a society in the sense that they conceive themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations with one another. From here international order can be achieved in a similar way to domestic order when primary or elementary goals of this society of states can be sustained. (Bull 1977:1-10) It should be noted at this point that not all members of the English school share this exact definition. The other concept, one of a global community can be a little ambiguous. Different theories play a part in this concept. Immanuel Kant's 'perpetual peace' is closely related in that it suggests the idea of a cosmopolitan right. ...read more.


For Kant, if up to the citizens, they will have a great hesitation in embarking on so dangerous an enterprise. On the other hand leaving the decision of war on the statesman, as Jackson does, will most likely result in conflict, for the statesman has to make no sacrifice for war. (Kant 1991:99-102) War as discussed earlier is an indication of pessimism and so Jackson's idea of international society again moves away from the optimism of Kant. For pluralists such as Jackson, common values and common interests are shared in international society, however they are limited to norms of sovereignty and non-intervention. This is far from optimistic, and this may be due to some overlapping of pluralist and realist ideas. For example Martin Wight of the English school makes this clear by saying that international society is still about security and survival and is unfortunately incompatible with progressivist theory. He does see some progress but as limited and that ultimately international society is not the path to a global community. (Wight 1977) Pluralism however, is still within the English school and does not adhere to the idea of a constant state of war that realists argue exists. To evaluate the pluralist perspective so far, as simply as possible, 'international society' for pluralists is not on the way towards a global community and international society cannot be taken for granted. These ideas begin to look pessimistic from the eyes of a cosmopolitan. However a cosmopolitan would be mistaken to conclude his idea of the English school having only seen the pluralist case. The initial question may even stand firm were it not for the solidarists who's idea of an international society seems to be more optimistic, especially when it comes to the topic of humanitarian intervention. I say that the question may stand firm and not will because even pluralism is not all negative. There is a great overlap between solidarists and pluralists. ...read more.


The philosopher Leibnitz describes optimism as a world which is the best of all worlds. Maybe a utopian world. When we look up optimism in the dictionary it's meaning is of progress or improvement or moving away from evil. What is clear is that in our 'international relations' context optimism can be any idea which seems brighter than realism or the Hobbesian idea of international relations. If we take the definition of optimism to be Kantian thought or Revolutionism and regard realism as pessimism then we have left a third way or the English school still to be grouped. The English school however cannot fit easily into either of these groups. From the different writers of the English school we can see very different ideas. The pluralist idea can in some ways be describes as closer to realism. As Jackson suggests, it is still closer to security and survival than the global community that we wish for. So Jackson's version of the English school makes the question correct in some respects. Having said that Jackson is far from pessimistic. Optimism for Jackson is security and order. Jackson describes problems of an international society but he keeps the idea rather than rejecting it. He remains within the English school by doing so. The solidarists on the other hand are the optimistic group from the English school, ones who falsify the question. Dunne even claims that the society of states is on the way towards a global community. There is no pessimism here. If the English school is far too pessimistic then what vocabulary do we have left to describe the realists? Both pluralist and solidarist arguments aim positively or normatively in at least some respects. I can not conclude whether an international society is optimistic or pessimistic because it does not fit into either category but what can be said is that arguing that International society is far too pessimistic in that it suggests that we can never belong to a global community goes against many of the arguments made by members of the English school. ...read more.

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