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Hedley Bull's The Anarchical Society. London, Macmillan, 1977

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IEP Paris

About the document

Published date
documents in English
term papers
6 pages
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  1. Introduction
  2. International society as the idea-force
  3. Bull: Realist or Universalist - A discussion
  4. Fitting of anarchy
  5. First critique: A link between international system and international society
  6. Second critique: The importance of diplomacy
  7. The impact of globalization
  8. The enduring relevance of Bull's ideas
  9. Conclusion

Bull's The Anarchical Society is a ground-breaking book that proposes novel, powerful concepts for reading today's world order as well as the order that prevailed in the world in 1977. Today more than ever, we need the idea of international society, even if it has to be revisited to fit the realities of the 21st century. Written is the specific context of the Cold War and very much in the wake of the universalist values an modus vivendi of the late 1960s, Bull's ideas might seem a little outdated at first sight. But, as I will try to demonstrate, some of the concepts used in The Anarchical Society are today more valid and useful than ever. To approach the old question of how to conceptualise international relations and the maze of interrelated issues concerning international law, order, and justice, Bull gives right from the start of his landmark book a fantastic hint: think of the world around you not only as an international system, but as an international society.

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