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Journal ArticleDOI

The Idea of Order in Ancient Chinese Political Thought: A Wightian Exploration

01 Jan 2014-International Affairs (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (10.1111))-Vol. 90, Iss: 1, pp 167-183
TL;DR: In this article, a critical exploration of how a pivotal idea in ancient as well as contemporary international relations, namely, the idea of order, is deliberated in ancient Chinese political thought is explored.
Abstract: Is there any significant international thought in antiquity beyond the West? If there is, why has there as yet been no meaningful conversation between the expanding enterprise of theorizing International Relations (IR) today and ancient Chinese political thought? This extended version of my Martin Wight Memorial Lecture addresses these questions through a critical exploration of how a pivotal idea in ancient as well as contemporary international relations, namely, the idea of order, is deliberated in ancient Chinese political thought. Inspired by Martin Wight's profound scholarship so steeped in historical and philosophical depth, it investigates why and how alternative visions of moral, social and political order are imagined, offered and debated in ancient Chinese philosophical discourse. It examines the ways in which the moral and political pursuit of order as a social ideal is conducted in the anarchical society of states in ancient China. Through these historical and philosophical investigations, this article seeks to establish that ancient Chinese political and philosophical deliberations are rich in international thought and that classical thinkers in China's Axial Age are alive to us and contemporaneous with us philosophically as much as ancient Greek philosophers are. In establishing such a claim, the article calls for, and issues an invitation to, a conversation between the world of thought in ancient China and the theorization of IR as an intellectual ritual in search of a truly international theory.
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01 Jan 2014
TL;DR: The authors investigates the relationship between great powers and responsibility through an analysis of the direct equation of greatness with responsibility in the concepts of responsible power and responsible stakeholder in both the discourse of the practitioners of international politics, and in theoretical literature.
Abstract: The dissertation investigates the relationship between great powers and responsibility through an analysis of the direct equation of greatness with responsibility in the concepts of ʻresponsible power’ and ʻresponsible stakeholder’ in both the discourse of the practitioners of international politics, and in theoretical literature. Preponderant power is thought to come with corresponding responsibilities set by the international social order, and it is meeting these responsibilities that secures the state the status of a great power, hence transforming the fact of great power into a right. The equivalence between greatness and responsibility, however, is paradoxical if the latter stands for accountability for the fulfilment of obligations. Such an understanding of responsibility is fully internal to a pre-given structure of order with its norms, social and functional roles, and criteria of legitimacy. The assertion of greatness, on the other hand, requires an actor to reveal itself outside any pre-given standard, and to have its own standards recognised as equal – hence the historical centrality of war to claiming great powerhood. Asserting one's greatness by fulfilling the required responsibilities therefore seems paradoxical. Still, the ʻresponsible power’ discourse also provided the rationale for the European Union's invitation to a rising China to jointly take on the responsibility of managing Africa's development despite the fact that China was not perceived to be a responsible power

33 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article argued that the search for a "Chinese" paradigm of international relations theory is part of China's quest for national identity and global status, and argued that these theories are expected to fulfil two general functions -to safeguard China's national interests and to legitimize the one-party system.
Abstract: After decades of policy learning and adoption of “Western” theories of international politics, the Chinese academic community has (re-)turned to the construction of a “Chinese” theory framework. This article examines the recent academic debates on theory with “Chinese characteristics” and sheds light on their historical and philosophical foundations. It argues that the search for a “Chinese” paradigm of international relations theory is part of China's quest for national identity and global status. As can be concluded from the analysis of these debates, “Chinese” theories of international politics are expected to fulfil two general functions – to safeguard China's national interests and to legitimize the one-party system.

20 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article argued that interventionists are predisposed to promote political arrangements that correspond to their own governance schemas, or taken-for-granted assumptions about the nature of political authority.
Abstract: How do foreign actors involved in ‘regime change’ decide which kinds of domestic governance structures to promote in place of the regimes they have deposed? Most of the literature on foreign-imposed regime change assumes that interveners make such decisions based on rational calculations of expected utility. This article, by contrast, contends that interveners are predisposed to promote political arrangements that correspond to their own governance ‘schemas’, or taken-for-granted assumptions about the nature of political authority. These patterns are examined in relation to the US-led regime-change invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In both cases, the interveners appeared to be guided – and partially blinded – by their own governance schemas. Yet, if schemas have these effects, they should also be visible in cases where interveners held very different assumptions about governance and the ‘state’ than those held by US officials in Afghanistan and Iraq. To probe this possibility, this article also examines an older, non-Western case of intervention – the Mongol invasion and occupation of northern China in the thirteenth century – a case that yields similar results and highlights the need for additional historical research in this field.

17 citations

01 Jan 2014

3 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article , the authors argue that a "purposive" understanding of disorder in world politics is evident, as well as a set of sociological explanations of it, including hierarchy conflict, political value conflict, and the structural contradictions of international society.
Abstract: Abstract The international society approach to the study of international relations has advanced a distinct understanding of international order in world politics. Does this approach therefore also implicitly have a distinct understanding of disorder in world politics, too? From a close reading of this literature, and the writings of Hedley Bull in particular, I argue that a “purposive” understanding of disorder in world politics is evident, as well as a set of sociological explanations of it, including hierarchy conflict, political value conflict, and the structural contradictions of international society. I suggest that this approach is more insightful and promising for studying increasing manifestations of disorder in world politics than alternative realist approaches. Finally, I make the case that this concept's analytical utility and theoretical role in this approach is the assessment of the continued viability of international society as a path to order in world politics.

1 citations