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Whatever became of the English School?. Answer: it’s alive and well, and speaks to us constantly in the orotund voices of the “international community”. Hedley Bull (1977/1995 The Anarchical Society: a Study of Order in World Politics Basingstoke : Palgrave MacMillan.

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whatever became of the english school

Whatever became of the English School?

Answer: it’s alive and well, and speaks to us constantly in the orotund voices of the “international community”.

slide2
Hedley Bull (1977/1995The Anarchical Society: a Study of Order in World PoliticsBasingstoke : Palgrave MacMillan
problems of definition and its application to statecraft
Problems of definition and its application to statecraft.
  • This idea of ‘society’ defies all common usage in Sociology; ‘society’ is not (cannot be) counterposed to the ‘state’, because like all realists the English school recognise only mature anarchy as the axial principle of international order. In any case, the ‘state’ is a constituent (constitutive) element of international society.
  • How are we to explain the (re)production of the common rules and practices that constitute international society? Interests, values, rules and institutions (Bull’s classic criteria) underpin the historical continuity of the international society, and the changes that have taken place in it, but in fact the model (if that is not too exact a word) clearly relies on an assumption of community of values.
  • But what if the values are imposed by strong states on weak ones, and why privilege ‘values’ over ‘interests’? After all, war and great powers are fundamental institutions in this tradition of IR studies, so it would seem logical to make ‘power’ not ‘values’ the master concept.
four statements to guide further discussion
Four statements to guide further discussion.
  • The idea of the ‘international society’ is based on muddled thinking. It is the ideological construct of the ‘international community’ under another name. For ‘society’ read ‘club’, as in Gentleman’s Club.
  • In the contemporary world the ethical content of this ideological construct is human rights, maximally conceived.
  • ‘Human rights’ trumps all in the (secular, liberal) moral lexicon; it is an ideal vehicle for a global(izing) ideology of ‘western’ progress.
  • Human rights activity is an exercise in power, and how (by whom) it is sponsored and controlled is important.
o brave new world that has so many moral entrepreneurs in it
O brave new world that has so many moral entrepreneurs in it!
  • Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Oxfam, UNICEF, thousands of lawyers, scores of university departments and research institutes, Open Society Institute (Soros), myriad Foundations (Ford, Rockefeller), Department for International Development (UK), Shell, Rio Tinto Zinc, British Telecom (sic!). The spread of this global ethical enterprise corresponds to the burgeoning ambitions to mend a broken world, reflected in the vocabulary of liberal internationalism: democracy, conflict resolution, civil society, governance, for example.
  • The UN commissioned Agenda for Peace (1992) marked a new phase in the search for a proactive international force for change, and was followed by the West’s military intervention in the Balkan conflict (1999)............
what kind of international community is emerging
What kind of ‘ international community’ is emerging?
  • Geoffrey Best notes the tendency in global-speak to go beyond the idea of ‘international society’, and to promote the idea of a global community uniting the peoples of the world.
  • “Of whom, then, does this global community consist? Who has a stake in it? Who are its full-time citizens? For my part, I can’t see that it contains more than a mutually supportive mix of elites and special interest groups – the elites of diplomacy and international organisation; the worlds of international finance, business and communications; the mixed elites, interest groups and communities of arts and science and, of course, human rights and humanitarian activism”.
  • Source: review of Fairness in International Law and Institutions, by Thomas Franck, Oxford 1995, in London Review of Books 18, no 16 22/8/1996.
  • Best specializes in International Law.
from human rights to humanrightism the itcy
From human rights to ‘humanrightism’: the ITCY

The ITCY was described by John Laughland in the London Times (17/6/1999) as “rogue court with rigged rules”. Jurists have found it guilty of (at least)

Two counts of denial of fair trial;

Two counts of US direction of prosecution;

Three counts of selective prosecution;

Failure to prosecute prima facie NATO war crimes.

See: ‘Biased Justice’: “Humanrightism” and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’, by Robert M Hayden, in Yugoslavia Unraveled: Sovereignty, Self-Determination, Intervention, edited by RajuG.C.Thomas (2003) Lexington Books.

by way of a conclusion
By way of a Conclusion
  • DimitrinaPetrovna argues that “human rights are becoming indistinguishable from official political ideology”, noting “a gradual usurpation of the human rights culture by the dominant powers, and the very argument for human rights is turning into an apologia for the global status quo, all in the interests of these very powers”. Source: “The War and the Human Rights Community”, East European Constitutional Review 8, no 3(1999):97. (Cited in Hayden, above).
  • Petrovna was Executive Director of the European Roma Rights Center in Budapest. Initially she supported Western intervention in Yugoslavia but became disillusioned by the influence of the United States on Eastern European activists.
  • Human Rights Watch supported the intervention.