POLB81H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Human Nature, Collective Security
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Tuesday February 15, 2011
Chapter 1 notes
- Robert Cox says of the makers of history: ‘Their understanding of what the historical context allows
them to do, prohibits them from doing, or requires them to do, and the way they formulate their
purposes in acting, is a product of theory.’
- In essence, we reflect on the events that occur and from that we can devise a theoretical framework
for understanding those events and for examining future events. But once we have constructed a
specific theoretical lens for viewing the world, that construct can influence how we respond to future
events and how we think about what we are doing.
- THUS, theory can be both a constraining and facilitating device. It can be used to limit agency or it can
cause agents to act by providing reasons for them to do so.
- Sir Thomas More first introduced this term ‘Utopia’ in his work describing the ideal city-state
- utopianism: The ideology that holds that there is a perfect future that people can hope to achieve.
- Many western scholars assume that Utopia is unrealizable/unreachable and see those who believe it as
hopeless daydreamers. They call Utopian mode of thinking irrational unrealistic and unpragmatic
- Is this really so? That a utpian vision of the world would likely clash with conceptions of the world as it
is as the moment. But this could create what Max Weber describes as a healthy tension between the
existent and the ideal. This striving for a better world – not its actual accomplishment – produces the
dynamic force in history. As Weber put it, the only reason why people are able to attain the possible is
because they tend to reach out time and time again, for the impossible.
- Karl Mannhein – “With the relinquishment of utopias, man would lose his will to shape history and
therewith his ability to understand it.’
- Utopian assumptions:
1. Human nature is, in essence, good, malleable, and peaceful
2. Human beings have the dialectical ability to be rational as well as passionate, and education
can be the instrument used to ensure that reason prevails over passion
3. Humans become warlike only when they enter ‘society’
4. Governments and the media tend to manipulate public opinion in support of war even when
the majority of people (citizens) are opposed to it
5. War is a product of clashing societies/civilizations that, through ignorance, prejudice, and
selfishness, resort to violence; it is not necessarily inherent in individual humans
6. State leaders in their quest for power are more prone to war than their subjects
7. Democracies, especially republican states, tend to be peaceful and do not go to war with one
8. Arms races are a major cause of warfare between states
9. Collective security, through centrally organized forces, can be used to deter deviant states
10. The global rule of law, coupled with the practice of diplomacy and the establishment of
effective international organizations, can act as a rational constraint on state actors and lead to global
and sustainable peace.
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