State - State Anarchy as Order, Spruyt.docx

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 1020E
Bruce Morrison

INSTITUTIONAL SELECTION IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: STATE ANARCHY AS ORDER – SPRUYT  Sovereign territorial states, city leagues and city states all tried to tap into the new sources of economic wealth, particularly long distance trade  The sovereign territorial state prevailed because it proved more effective at preventing defection by its members, reducing internal transaction costs and making credible commitments to other units  Sovereign territoriality was a means of structuring inter-unit behavior  The principle of sovereign territorial authority differed from other systems of rule – institutional emerged in the course of later centuries  The city states acknowledged territorial limits but often lacked clear internal hierarchy, largely loose confederations having no clear sovereign  Sovereignty: the principle that authority is limited by precise spatial terms and is subject to no other authority  The legal climate was unfavorable for trade given the underdevelopment of written codes, the importance of local customary proceedings, the lack of instrumentally rational procedures and the crosscutting nature of jurisdictions  Individuals pursue the formation of institutional structures that they believe will best meet their interests  Traders will prefer institutions that protect them physically and economically – prefer systems of rule that help them to enter into stable contracts and that do not charge exorbitant taxes or fees  Institutions can be explained by micro-level analysis of individuals preferences and contractual choices  Transactions costs are high and property rights are ill defined then the contracting actors will benefit from structuring their interactions in a hierarchical fashion  NIH proponents because they assume that institutions are basically rational, run the risk of committing a similar error to that of functionalist arguments  Preferences need not be imputed, the fallacy of post hoc rationalization can be avoided by describing the institutional choices then available to the individuals  If particular organizational units can reduce the level of defection and expost reneging between themselves, then they can credibly commit to long term agreements  The geographical extension of political authority roughly corresponds with the spatial extension of the primary market  Imperial expansion tends to incorporate all significant economic needs within the domain of the empire itself, relations with groups on the perimeter tending to be unstable  Wallerstein suggests that economically integrated zones, world systems, often were transformed into empires  When commerce occurs across boundaries without political supervision, that is when the market geographically extends beyond existing political authorities, then merchants must rely on self help  In a decentralized logic of organization, merchants have to strike deals with lords on an ad hoc basis – this reduces the ability of long term predation by one lord because a merchant can shift to another  Feudalism essentially entailed decentralized political authority, private possession of the means of violence and the lack of any distinction between public and private authority  Feudal obligations of necessity revolved around in kind transfers – the very basis of feudal organization was centered around the granting of land by a high lord or king to a lesser vassal  The legal system further hindered commercial transactions – feudalism evolved into a system of preferential birth and operated as a closed caste system favoring the warrior aristocracy  Transaction costs were raised further by the fact that secular and ecclesiastical lords used their own weights and measures  Trade made increasing division of labour possible – many new towns were founded and existing towns grew in the wake of this economic boom  The emergence of towns thus created a dynamic element in the European political system  Sovereign territorial states emerged particularly in England and France while city states gradually rose out of independent communes of Italy, City leagues were in Germany  All three were able to respond to the pre-capitalist opportunities of the period  Rulers realized that rationalizing the economies of their kingdoms and facilitating trade were in their own interests.  Roman law not only justified sovereign rule, but it also contained developed theories of property  Merchant law, the system of law that the merchants had administered themselves in an ingenious self help construction, was replaced by royal law – sovereign rulers became the gate
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