Free Essay



Submitted By lisajames
Words 74303
Pages 298
International Relations Theory

The new edition of International Relations Theory: A critical introduction introduces students to the main theories in international relations. It explains and analyzes each theory, allowing students to understand and critically engage with the myths and assumptions behind each theory. Key features of this textbook include: • discussion of all of the main theories: realism and (neo)realism, idealism and (neo)idealism, liberalism, constructivism, postmodernism, gender, and globalization two new chapters on the “clash of civilizations” and Hardt and Negri’s Empire innovative use of narratives from films that students will be familiar with: Lord of the Flies, Independence Day, Wag the Dog, Fatal Attraction, The Truman Show, East is East, and Memento an accessible and exciting writing style which is well-illustrated with boxed key concepts and guides to further reading.

• •

This breakthrough textbook has been designed to unravel the complexities of international relations theory in a way that allows students a clearer idea of how the theories work and the myths that are associated with them. Cynthia Weber is Professor of International Studies at the University of Lancaster. She is the author of several books and numerous articles in the field of international relations.

International Relations Theory
A critical introduction Second edition

Cynthia Weber

First published 2001 by Routledge Second edition published 2005 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 270 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group

This edition published in the Taylor and Francis e-Library, 2005. “To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to”
© 2001, 2005 Cynthia Weber All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested

ISBN 0-203-48146-1 Master e-book ISBN

ISBN 0-203-67999-7 (Adobe eReader Format) ISBN 0–415–34207–4 (hbk) ISBN 0–415–34208–2 (pbk)

For Lyn and Charles Weber and for Bob DiClerico

Learning depends upon freeing the message from the constraints of the situation at hand. Roland Barthes



x xi xii xiv xv xvii

1 Introduction: culture, ideology, and the myth function in IR theory Culture Ideology The myth function in IR theory Why myths? Plan of the book Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 Mythology as methodology Topic 2 Culture, form, and IR theory 2 Realism: is international anarchy the permissive cause of war? (Lord of the Flies) What does the myth say? Lord of the Flies

3 4 6 7 8 10 10 11

17 23



The function of fear in Waltz’s anarchy myth Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 (Neo)realism Topic 2 The uses of fear in IR theory Note on the US film of Lord of the Flies 3 Idealism: is there an international society? (Independence Day) What does the myth say? Independence Day Fear and leadership in Independence Day Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 Cooperation under anarchy Topic 2 Morality and ethics in IR Media note Classroom activity 4 Constructivism: is anarchy what states make of it? (Wag the Dog) What does the myth say? Wag the Dog Practice, seduction, and dead authorship Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 Constructivism Topic 2 Postmodernism 5 Gender: is gender a variable? (Fatal Attraction) What does the myth say? Fatal Attraction Placing feminism in IR Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 Feminism Topic 2 Masculinity 6 Globalization: are we at the end of history? (The Truman Show) What does the myth say? The Truman Show Liberalism’s internal contradiction, or is the end ever really the end? viii

31 33 33 34 34

40 46 52 56 56 57 57 57

61 68 74 77 77 78

84 90 96 100


107 113 119


Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 Globalization Topic 2 The uses of history 7 (Neo)Marxism: is Empire the new world order? (Memento) What does the myth say? Memento Truth, ontology, and desire Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 Imperial IR Topic 2 Memory in IR 8 Modernization and development theory: is there a clash of civilizations? (East is East) What does the myth say? East is East Identity, desire, and culture Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 Critiques of modernization and development theory Topic 2 Critiques of identity Postscript 9 Conclusion: what does it all mean? How IR theory makes sense of the world Making sense of IR theory The politics of the popular Where does all of this leave us?

121 121 122

127 134 143 148 148 149

157 163 172 174 174 175 175

178 182 185 187

189 195



Lord of the Flies 2.1 Ralph blows the conch shell 2.2 Jack’s choir boys 2.3 Jack transformed into tribal leader Memento 7.1 Faded Polaroid of a dead body 7.2 Tattooed Leonard

25 26 30

134 142



3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 4.1 6.1 6.2 7.1 8.1 8.2

Democratically organized state and society Autocratically organized state and society How does Wilson enact the “domestic analogy”? How does Kegley enact the “domestic analogy”? How US leadership is extended in Independence Day Wendt’s constructivist bridge between (neo)realists and neoliberals The Hegelian dialectic The dialectical struggle in “The Truman Show” The dialectical logic of Empire Structural-functional model Political development timeline

44 44 45 46 55 64 108 117 133 154 154



2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 6.1 6.2 6.3

Realism vs. (neo)realism 15 Causes of war for Waltz 20 Waltzian (neo)realism 21 How does Lord of the Flies represent hierarchy and anarchy? 24 What is typical and what is deviant in the two worlds of Lord of the Flies? 24 The locations of fear in Lord of the Flies 33 Idealism 38 What can realism explain and what can’t realism explain? 40 How do Waltz and Kegley differently characterize international politics? 42 The heroes in Independence Day 48 What do (neo)realists and neoliberals agree and disagree about? 62 Three stories of international anarchy 67 What seems to be typical and deviant in the world of Wag the Dog? 72 Reconsidering what is typical and deviant in the world of Wag the Dog 75 Advantages and disadvantages of the Wendtian compromise 77 What is feminism for Jones? 85 How have feminists made use of the gender variable? 86 How should feminists and non-feminists use the gender variable in the future? 89 Jones’s characterization of feminism vs. Peterson’s characterization of feminism 90 The place of woman in Fatal Attraction 94 What is typical and what is deviant in the world of Fatal Attraction? 95 Gendered perspectives in Fatal Attraction and traditional IR theory 98 Neoliberal and historical materialist takes on globalization 105 Hegelian and Marxist understandings of history 109 Ideological challengers to liberalism 110



6.4 What is typical and deviant in the historical world of the television program “The Truman Show”? 6.5 What is typical and deviant in the post-historical world of the film The Truman Show? 7.1 Marx’s vs. Hardt and Negri’s understanding of history 7.2 Modernism vs. postmodernism 7.3 What is typical and deviant in the world of Memento? 8.1 Assumptions of political development 8.2 What is typical and deviant in the world of East is East? 9.1 How does IR theory make sense of the world? 9.2 What is typical and deviant for IR theory? 9.3 IR theory’s myth function

118 119 125 133 139 155 169 179 182 185



1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 2.1 2.2 3.1 3.2 4.1 4.2 4.3 5.1 5.2 5.3 7.1 7.2 7.3 8.1 9.1

What is culture? What is ideology? Examples of conscious and unconscious ideologies What is an IR myth? What is the myth function in IR theory? Three assumptions of the international anarchy myth Where does fear figure in Waltz’s myth as enacted in Lord of the Flies? What is typical in the world of Independence Day? What is deviant in the world of Independence Day? What’s wrong with rationalism? Three fundamental principles of constructivist social theory How does Wag the Dog make sense of the world? What would it mean for gender to be a variable? How does Fatal Attraction make sense of the world? The “wrong” questions feminism asks of traditional IR theory What Empire is and isn’t Who are the multitude? How Memento makes sense of the world How East is East makes sense of the world Why pair IR theory with popular films?

3 5 5 6 7 14 28 49 51 63 65 71 83 93 98 128 132 138 166 187


Preface to the second edition

Since the first edition of this textbook went to press in 2000, the worlds of international relations theory and international politics have faced considerable challenges. In 2000, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri published a book called Empire that spoke to the precise moment of international life we were all then living – how to make sense of resistance (especially anti-globalization movements) in an era of globalization. They offered us a new myth for a new millennium – “Empire is the new world order.” And, in so doing, they temporarily revived the tradition of (neo)Marxism, a tradition that in the views of many observers of international politics had lost its ideological relevance in the post-Cold War world. Hardt and Negri’s myth captured the imagination of many until September 11, 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. Almost immediately, a new mythmaker and a new myth grabbed international attention. Back in 1993, Samuel Huntington had argued that the new world order would be defined by clashes not primarily among sovereign nation-states but among what he called civilizations. As President George W. Bush declared war on terror, it was Huntington’s myth “There is a clash of civilizations” that framed international debate, for it seemed to have predicted the so-called clash between the civilizations of “Western Christianity” and “Eastern Islam.” One of the interesting features of Huntington’s myth is that its intellectual roots are not primarily in traditional security studies but in the often forgotten debates of modernization and development theory. It is only by returning to Huntington’s contributions to these debates that the fullness of his clash of civilizations myth and its implications for international politics can be appreciated. What we’ve seen in this new millennium so far, then, is the emergence of two powerful new myths based on two theoretical traditions that had pretty much been written off by the majority of IR theorists – (neo)Marxism and modernization and development theory. This is a noteworthy development, especially when considered in light of Francis Fukuyama’s claims that with the perfection of the ideals of



liberalism, we are at the end of history. New ideologies have not captured international attention in the same way that new combinations of ideologies have. Hardt and Negri, for example, combine (neo)Marxism with postmodernism to construct their myth “Empire is the new world order” while Huntington combines modernization and development theory with more traditional securities studies to argue “There is a clash of civilizations.” This does not mean that no new ideologies are emerging or will emerge. Rather, it does mean that as new myths make their way into the international arena, we had better pay close attention to their ideological roots, however passé we might have thought they were. This is precisely what this second edition does. It brings us up to date with IR myths by contextualizing them in relation to their theoretical traditions in order to understand what makes these myths appear to describe just the way things are at precise historical moments. But, of course, this book does more than merely explain and understand IR myths. It also critically analyzes them. It asks of each myth “what must go without saying in order for this myth to appear to be true?” And, as before, it investigates this question by turning to popular films as alternative worlds that both illustrate and deconstruct these IR myths. So, for example, the myth “Empire is the new world order” is reconsidered through the 2000 film Memento, and the myth “There is a clash of civilizations” is re-read through the 2000 film East is East. As in the previous edition, reexamining IR myths through popular films does not only allow us to rethink the IR myths themselves; it also enables us to think more deeply about the relationship between IR theory and popular culture. In writing this revised edition, I owe all the intellectual debts I owed in the first edition and more. Annette Davison, Mick Dillon, Mark Duffield, Jenny Edkins, Tracey Golstein, Mark Lacy, Adam Maton, Sasha Roseneil, Craig Warkentin, Jutta Weldes, and my students at Leeds University have all provided helpful comments, advice, and/or support. Francois Debrix has again proved to be an exceptionally perceptive reader, critic, colleague, and friend. And three anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments. What I also realized as I read through the first edition and worked on this second edition is that my training in IR theory – the things I take for granted as known – was exceptional. At Arizona State University, not only Richard Ashley but also Pat McGowan, Karen Rasler, and Steve Walker and, beyond ASU, Michael Shapiro and Rob Walker provided me with much of my introduction to IR theory, although each of them would of course write their own introduction differently. I thank them all. A sabbatical supported by the University of Leeds and a visiting Professorship at the New School for Social Research gave me the time and space to rethink and rewrite this book. Thanks to Duncan McCargo at Leeds and David Plotke at the New School for arranging this institutional support, as well as for being individually supportive. Finally, thanks to the staff and editors at Routledge for letting me continue this story in a second edition.


Preface to the first edition

After a sabbatical from Purdue University a few years ago, I couldn’t wait to get back into the classroom. I had missed my interactions with students and had a renewed appreciation for the practice of teaching. But I had a number of problems. Like many teachers, I had intellectually outgrown my well-worn way of introducing international politics and international relations (IR) theory to students, but I never had the time to do more than tinker with examples or simulation exercises in an attempt to remedy this. Also, as at many other universities, the introductory course I taught in international relations was a prerequisite for later courses. As such, it was expected to familiarize students with key themes from long-standing IR traditions like realism, idealism, historical materialism, and their neos and introduce them to new perspectives like constructivism, postmodernism, gender, and globalization. This could be done by opting for an approach that narrated the historical development of IR traditions and debates or, alternatively, for a more topical approach to the subject and the field. Beyond these two standard options, there were no others. My experiments in the classroom with these teaching techniques left me feeling both fulfilled and disappointed. I was pretty good at narrating the traditions of IR theory, situating them historically, and bringing them into lively conversation with one another. This allowed me to explore some exciting topics in the field as well, which students seemed to enjoy. All this was fulfilling. But I was disappointed with how students interacted with IR theory. Despite my best critical intentions, students would find a particular aspect of IR theory they could identify with, attach themselves to it as “the way things are,” and evaluate every other IR theory they would hear in relation to it. Most often, this theory was realism. Occasionally, it was idealism. And in some cases, it was historical materialism or gender. It wasn’t that I cared which theory students attached themselves to. I didn’t prefer them to believe one theory over another. My aim was to get them to critically rethink all the theories. And I failed miserably.



Why did I fail? If a theory is presented to students as if it narrates just the way things are in international politics and if this way of making sense of the world taps into students’ own preconceptions about the world, then it is extremely difficult to get students to think critically about the theory. So I had to do better. But how? How could I both stick to the brief of what an introduction to international relations or international relations theory is generally supposed to be while at the same time present the IR theories and topics in ways that allow for their genuine critical reconsideration? International Relations Theory: A critical introduction is my answer to this question. Its approach is both traditional and non-traditional. It is traditional because it is organized around the major traditions of international relations theory – realism, idealism, historical materialism, constructivism, gender, and globalization. It is nontraditional because it reexamines these IR traditions by asking the critical question, “What makes the stories these IR traditions tell about international politics appear to be true?” What, for example, makes realism’s story about sovereign nation-states locked into a battle for survival or idealism’s story about the possibilities of international cooperation so compelling? In this book I suggest that what makes these IR stories appear to be true are the IR myths on which they are based. IR myths are apparent truths, usually expressed as slogans, that IR traditions rely on in order to appear to be true. The “truth” or the “falsity” of an IR myth is beside the point. Examining how an IR myth functions to make an IR tradition appear to be true is the point. So, for example, the IR myth “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war” is the apparent truth that realism and these days (neo)realism depend on. Similarly, “there is an international society” is the IR myth that makes the stories told by idealism and (neo)idealism appear to be true. None of this should come as a surprise to IR theorists. We know that different IR traditions rely on very different IR myths in order to appear to be true. So how do we make sense of these contradictory ways of seeing the world for our students? The usual strategy is to “test” the validity of the IR myths against the “facts” of international politics to determine which IR myth (and therefore which IR tradition) offers the most accurate description of international politics. Proving that an IR myth, tradition, or theory is wrong so that it can be replaced by another one which is “true” is usually what we mean by doing “critical IR theory.” But what if we push our analysis just a bit further? What if we unpack not just IR traditions but the IR myths on which they are based? What if we ask of IR myths (as we do of IR traditions), “What makes the story they tell about international politics appear to be true?” What makes international anarchy appear to be the permissive cause of war, or why does there appear to be an international society? If we pursue these questions, then we do not only push our analysis of IR traditions further. We push what it means to do “critical IR theory.” Why is this the case? Because the alternative way of doing critical IR theory proposed in this book allows us to examine not only how one “truth” replaces another “truth” but also how “truths” get constructed. This is beyond the scope of most traditional critical IR theory which concerns itself only with evaluating which “truth” appears to be most “true.” By declaring one theory “true” and another one “false,” traditional critical IR theory cannot then go back and examine what makes the “true” theory appear to be true. For example, realism critiques idealism by “proving” its IR myth “international



anarchy is the permissive cause of war” is “more true” than idealism’s myth “there is an international society.” But, in so doing, realism cannot ask what makes its IR myth about international anarchy appear to be true. And, without critically analyzing its own IR myth, realism ultimately proves nothing. Asserting the “truth” of one IR myth over another in no way guarantees the “truth” of an IR myth, no matter how much empirical evidence is amassed to support the “truth” of the myth. This is the case because the “truth” of an IR myth depends as much on how empirical evidence is organized into a coherent story about international politics as it does on the evidence alone. This is a central problem with how critical theory is usually practiced in the discipline of international relations. International Relations Theory takes this problem seriously. How it takes it seriously is by shifting its analytical emphasis away from looking for “empirical evidence” to support the “truth” of an IR myth toward an investigation of the organization of “the facts” that make an IR story about international politics appear to be true. Doing critical IR theory in this way means we have to suspend our usual preoccupation with getting to the “real truth” about an IR myth, tradition, or theory and ask instead, “What makes a particular story about international politics appear to be true?” Or, to put it somewhat differently, “how does the ‘truth’ function in a particular IR myth?” It is not accidental that this book as my answer to how to teach IR theory better should focus on stories and how they are told. If the world is made up of “facts” and stories that organize those “facts,” then there is no more important skill to pass on to students than to make them better readers and writers of stories, better interpreters of not just “the facts” but of the organization of “the facts.” With this in mind, International Relations Theory does not try to be a comprehensive textbook crammed with every “fact” about international life or even international theory. By focusing on the major IR traditions of realism, idealism, historical materialism, constructivism, postmodernism, gender, and globalization, it attempts to help students to read and write their world better by arming them with the ability to critically ask, how does the “truth” get told? Hopefully, all this takes me far along the critical road to teaching IR theory. But it leaves me with one more major problem. How do I get students interested in doing alternative critical IR theory? What could possibly motivate and engage students who are so often bored with reading and writing and who are likely to find IR theory incomprehensible at first? Good teaching means starting where your students are and bringing them to where you want them to be, rather than always expecting them to know how to come to where you are. Over the years, I have found that students enjoy engaging with visual media. Students are into television and film. And, what’s more, they tend to be excellent readers and writers of visual media. To get students to be better readers and writers of IR theory, the place to start is to get them to apply what they already know about reading and writing visual media to international politics. How do I do this? By teaching them IR theory through popular films that they know about and like. That’s why this book uses Lord of the Flies to teach students about how the anarchy myth works in realism and (neo)realism, Independence Day to teach them about how the international society myth functions in idealism and (neo)idealism, Wag the Dog to introduce them to the debates around



social constructivism and postmodernism, Fatal Attraction to make them aware of the political stakes of thinking about gender as a variable, The Truman Show to reconsider the myth that history is over and how this myth supports neoliberal stories about “globalization”, Memento to shed light on how (neo)Marxism reorders history as the history of Empire and resistances to Empire, and East is East to explore the lingering influence of modernization and development theory on contemporary security studies. As this brief synopsis illustrates, I use popular films as vehicles through which students can rethink IR theory and IR myths. The films are used not only to illustrate a particular IR myth but to show students something more besides, and this something more is how the IR myth functions. Put differently, popular films not only illustrate IR myths and the IR traditions they support. Popular films provide students with answers to the question, How does an IR myth appear to be true? In so doing, popular films point to how politics, power, and ideology are culturally constructed and how the culture of IR theory might be politically reconstructed. Again, this should not surprise IR theorists, especially those who are attentive to the current debates concerning IR theory and popular culture. For my starting point is to think about IR theory as a site of cultural practice, and this book is a critical reconsideration of what must go without saying in order for the traditional cultural practices of IR theory to function. It is written with undergraduate students in English-speaking universities in mind. It can be used on its own to structure an introductory course on international relations or IR theory, or it can be used to supplement either historical/theoretical or topical presentations of IR. Each myth is accompanied by “Suggestions for further thinking.” These suggestions make the book adaptable to lecture- or seminar-style teaching and extend and upgrade the material from the undergraduate level to the postgraduate level. It was also written with my colleagues in mind. I hope it will offer them insights about innovative ways of teaching as well as about the disciplinary culture of IR theory. I have many people to thank for their intellectual generosity toward me and this project. The sage advice of Jim Rosenau, who encouraged me as I prepared for my first teaching post to combine my teaching and my research by being theoretically imaginative in the classroom, and of Cynthia Enloe, whose challenge to us all to write accessibly and for a general readership, oriented me as I undertook this project. At Purdue University, I benefited enormously from conversations with colleagues, including Bob Bartlett, Pat Boling, Berenice Carroll, Ann Clark, Rosie Clawson, Mark Tilton, Keith Shimko, Michael Weinstein, Linda White, and Lee Wilson. While I may not have discussed this project directly with some of these colleagues, they contributed to the project nonetheless by providing a supportive intellectual environment and a place for me to experiment with my teaching. Graduate students in my “IR Myths” course, especially Julie Webber, Deems Morrione, and Maartin Rothman, and undergraduate students in “Alternative IR,” provided invaluable insights to this project. Moving to the United Kingdom in 1999 meant that I gained a number of new critical eyes on the project. At the University of Leeds, Kevin Theakston granted me



a timely sabbatical which allowed me to finish the book. Other colleagues in the Institute of Politics and International Studies, especially Hugh Dyer, Jason Ralph, and Rhiannon Vickers, and in the Institute for Communication Studies, especially Jayne Rodgers, were particularly supportive. My students in my undergraduate course “Popular Culture and International Relations” at the University of Leeds acted as my final sounding board for the manuscript before its publication. They saved me from many a misstep. The invitation from Bob Eccleshall of the School of Politics at The Queen’s University of Belfast to spend my sabbatical in the School allowed me to finish the manuscript there and to receive helpful feedback on the project from students and colleagues at Queen’s, especially Alan Finlayson. I also benefited from presenting some of this material at the University of Kent London Centre for International Relations, where I particularly would like to thank Vivienne Jabri and Jef Huysmans for their detailed comments. Yale Furguson and Barry Jones provided me with my first forum in which to experiment with the mixing of film and international theory on the New Frontiers panel at the 1998 ECPR meetings in Vienna. Taking a chance on this unusual form, Walter Carlsnaes published the resulting paper as “IR: The Resurrection OR New Frontiers of Incorporation” in the European Journal of International Relations, 5(4): 435–50, (1999), which forms the basis for arguments presented in Chapters 4 and 5. My editor at Routledge, Mark Kavanagh, offered support and advice throughout. His belief in and enthusiasm for this project was much appreciated. Like Mark’s advice, the thoughtful reviews of this manuscript by Roxanne Doty and by two anonymous referees made this a better text. François Debrix read the entire manuscript, commenting on it as I produced it. He is a wonderful reader and writer of stories, and I thank him for his intellectual generosity. If it hadn’t been for Marysia Zalewski, who encouraged me to tell my stories about IR theory using film and who forced me to consider the bigger intellectual and political picture at every turn, this book could not have been written. Nor could this book have been written without the intellectual guidance of John MacLean, Richard Ashley, Thais Morgan, and Diane Rubenstein, each of whom introduced me to a different mode of critical thinking. I thank them all. This book is dedicated to my folks, Lyn and Charles Weber, whose support and encouragement especially over these past few years has been invaluable. This book is also dedicated to Bob DiClerico, a professor at West Virginia University where I studied as an undergraduate, who instilled in me an enthusiasm for teaching thanks to his great skill as a teacher. It is his example of excellence that guides my teaching to this day. The authors and publishers would like to thank the following for granting permission to reproduce material in this work. Dialogue quoted from the following films are transcripts made by the author: Lord of the Flies (1963), directed by Peter Brook, based on the novel by William Golding.



Independence Day (1996), directed by Roland Emmerich, screenplay by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. Wag the Dog (1997), directed by Barry Levinson, screenplay by Hilary Henkin and David Mamet. Fatal Attraction (1987), directed by Adrian Lyne, screenplay by James Dearden. The Truman Show (1998), directed by Peter Weir, screenplay by Andrew Niccol. East is East (1999), directed by Damien O’Donall, screenplay by Ayub Khan-Din. Memento (2000), directed by Christopher Nolan, screenplay by Jonathan Nolan. Every effort has been made to contact copyright holders for their permission to reprint material in this book. The publishers would be grateful to hear from any copyright holder who is not here acknowledged and will undertake to rectify any errors or omissions in future editions of this book.




Culture, ideology, and the myth function in IR theory

Culture Ideology The myth function in IR theory Why myths? Plan of the book Suggestions for further thinking

3 4 6 7 8 10



International politics is a huge field. It explores everything from wars to revolutions to global gender inequalities to demands for international human rights to international trade. To try to make sense of international politics, we often turn to international relations theory. IR theory makes organizing generalizations about international politics. IR theory is a collection of stories about the world of international politics. And in telling stories about international politics, IR theory doesn’t just present what is going on in the world out there. IR theory also imposes its own vision of what the world out there looks like. We use IR theory to make sense of the world of international politics. But how do we make sense of IR theory? Of course, we can learn all the stories IR theory tells us about the world. We call these stories IR traditions and name them (neo)realism, (neo)idealism, historical materialism, constructivism, gender, globalization, (neo)Marxism, and modernization and development theory. But just learning the stories IR theory tells doesn’t tell us much about IR theory itself. It doesn’t tell us, for example, how IR theory works. What makes the stories IR theory tells about international politics so compelling? What makes the stories IR theory tells about the world of international politics appear to be true? My answer is that IR theory – a collection of stories about international politics – relies on IR myths in order to appear to be true. What is an IR myth? An IR myth is an apparent truth, usually expressed in slogan form, that an IR theory relies on in order to appear to be true. IR myths, in other words, are the building blocks of IR theory, of the stories IR theory tells about the world of international politics. They are that part of the story that is so familiar to us that we take it for granted. And our taking IR myths for granted is necessary for IR theories to appear to be true. For example, think of the slogans “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war” and “there is an international society.” Such slogans are IR myths. Realists rely on the knowledge that “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war” to explain why sovereign nation-states inevitably find themselves in conflict with one another and why balance of power politics is the key to managing such conflict. Idealists, in contrast, rely on the knowledge that “there is an international society” in order for them to be able to tell their stories about progress among sovereign nation-states on a global scale to the point that conflict among them might be transcended. If we questioned these IR myths, then the stories told by IR traditions like realism and idealism would not necessarily appear to be true. Why do I refer to these building blocks of IR theory as IR myths? Is it because I believe IR myths – like myths generally – are false? Absolutely not! IR myths may be true, and they may be false. The truth or falsity of an IR myth is not important for understanding how IR myths function as the building blocks of IR theory. So why call the building blocks of IR stories IR myths? I call them IR myths because of the “mythologizing function” or “myth function” they perform. It is the myth function of these building blocks of IR theory that makes the stories told by IR theory appear to be true. What is the myth function in IR theory? How do IR myths make an IR theory appear to be true? And why is it important for us to study the process by which IR myths make IR theories appear to be true?



These are the questions I address in this chapter. I do so by considering IR theory’s relationship to three concepts – culture, ideology, and the myth function in IR theory.

Raymond Williams, a pioneer in the field of cultural studies and cultural theory, noted of the term culture that it is “one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language” (Williams, 1983: 87). Williams has a point. Culture is one of those terms that everyone seems to understand but no one seems to be able to adequately define. Often, when we think of culture, we think of traditional arrangements within particular states or societies. For example, we may say that there is something called US culture or UK culture. But this way of thinking about culture suggests that there is something stable, identifiable, and generalizable that we can point to as a culture. When we unpack a term like “US culture,” we find so many contradictions, incompatibilities, and complexities within it that the term itself seems to mean little. For example, how can we meaningfully make sense of the militia movement, the religious right, rugged individualism, and anti-capitalism, not to mention regional, rural, class, race, sexuality, and age “sub-cultures” collected under the one term “US culture.” Not very easily. For this reason, theorists who think about what culture is have tried to come up with less static and more open definitions of culture. These definitions focus on how culture is related to meaning rather than try to pin culture to a particular place at a particular time, like the contemporary USA (see Box 1.1). According to Stuart Hall, this is because “culture . . . is not so much a set of things – novels and paintings or TV programmes and comics – as a process, a set of practices,” what others have called “signifying practices” (Hall, 1997: 2; Storey, 1998: 2). For Hall, “culture is concerned with the production and the exchange of meanings – the ‘giving and taking of meaning’ – between members of a society or group” (1997: 2). Or, as John Hartley defines it, culture is “The social production and reproduction of sense, meaning, and consciousness” (in O’Sullivan et al., 1994: 68). Culture has to do with how we make sense of the world and how we produce, reproduce, and circulate that sense.

Box 1.1 What is culture?
“Culture is concerned with the production and exchange of meanings – the ‘giving and taking of meaning’ – between members of a society or group” (Hall, 1997) “The social production and reproduction of sense, meaning, and consciousness” (John Hartley, in O’Sullivan et al., 1994) “an ensemble of stories we tell about ourselves” (Geertz, 1975)



We circulate our sense about the world in may ways, and one of the ways we do this is through stories. This is why another cultural theorist, Clifford Geertz, described culture as “an ensemble of stories we tell about ourselves” (Geertz, 1975: 448). For Geertz, these stories are not always conscious. They can be composed of beliefs we consciously hold as well as of habits we unconsciously perform. Cultural stories are composed of both sense (consciousness) and common sense (unconsciousness). Common sense is what we know but don’t think about, what Roland Barthes described as “what-goes-without-saying” (Barthes, 1972: 11). Studying culture understood as “sense-making,” “signifying practices,” or “an ensemble of stories, beliefs, and habits” means we have to pay attention to how meanings are made. We must think about how meaning-making relies on what is said and what goes without saying. And we must recognize that cultures aren’t just “there,” fully formed for us to study. Indeed, it may be impossible for us to identify “cultures” as objects of study at all. Studying culture means looking at how what we objectify as “culture” is made. And part of what makes culture and helps to distinguish some “cultures” from other “cultures” are cultural practices that produce, organize, and circulate meanings through stories told about the world. IR theory can be studied as a site of cultural practice. IR theory is “an ensemble of stories” told about the world it studies, which is the world of international politics. Studying IR theory as a site of cultural practice means being attentive to how IR theory makes sense of the world of international politics. We have to ask of IR theory: how do the stories it tells about the world of international politics become sense and common sense? And why do we take for granted the sense IR theory makes of our lives in relation to international politics? My answer to these questions is that IR theory replies on IR myths in order to transform its culturally produced stories about the world into common sense about the world that we take for granted. But before we explore this process in detail, let me introduce another important concept that plays a part in this process. This concept is ideology.

Unlike the term culture, ideology is a term for which formal definitions confidently abound (see Box 1.2). The most common way ideology is defined is as “a fairly coherent and comprehensive set of ideas that explains and evaluates social conditions, helps people understand their place in society, and provides a program for social and political action” (Ball and Dagger, 1995: 9). It is a ready-made set of meanings and interpretations that can help us to make sense of our world and tell us how to act in relation to our world. This way of defining ideology assumes that all ideologies are consciously held. And many are. Examples of “conscious ideologies” are liberalism, conservatism, socialism, feminism, ecologism, and even vegetarianism. Conscious ideologies are easily identifiable. We know what they are, and we can subscribe to them or reject them. While conscious ideologies like liberalism and conservatism are powerful because they can politically mobilize people and “raise consciousness” about political



Box 1.2 What is ideology?
Conscious ideology: “a fairly coherent and comprehensive set of ideas that explains and evaluates social conditions, helps people understand their place in society, and provides a program for social and political action” (Ball and Dagger, 1995) Unconscious ideology: ideology that is not formally named and that is therefore difficult to identify. It is the common sense foundation of our world views that is beyond debate

situations, another type of ideologies – “unconscious ideologies” – are arguably even more politically powerful. Unlike neatly packaged, easily identifiable, named ideologies, unconscious ideologies lack proper names. This makes us less likely to be able to identify them as ideologies. This is why they are also called “anonymous ideologies” (Barthes, 1972). An example of an unconscious ideology is “boys will be boys.” It would be difficult to attribute this ideology to anyone in particular both because no one person or one ideological tradition claims it as their own and because it appears to those who hold it to be “just the way things are” or the way things ought to be. In this sense, unconscious ideologies are “profoundly unconscious” (Althusser, 1969). We use them to help us make sense of our worlds, very often without realizing it. And because we don’t realize we hold unconscious ideologies or use them to make sense of our worlds, we very rarely interrogate them. We very rarely ask difficult questions about them that might upset them as common sense (see Box 1.3). If conscious ideologies are those ideologies packaged as programs for political action that we debate in the political arena, unconscious ideologies are the foundations of our ideological and political thinking that we place beyond debate. Unconscious ideologies, in other words, “go without saying.” We don’t like to have our unconscious ideologies – our common sense – articulated, much less questioned. When they are, our way of making sense of the world is potentially threatened.

Box 1.3 Examples of conscious and unconscious ideologies
Conscious ideologies Liberalism Conservatism Socialism Feminism Unconscious ideologies Boys will be boys America has a classless society English people are white Everyone I know is straight



How is ideology related to culture? If culture is a site of meaning production, ideology is a site where meanings that are culturally produced are transformed into just the way things are or the way things ought to be. Some of this is done explicitly. For example, if you declare your allegiance to a particular named conscious ideology like conservatism, you are declaring that conservatism really truly describes how the world is and how it ought to be. You are consciously transforming your cultural views about the world into the view of the world as it naturally is. But a lot of the transformation from the cultural to the ideological goes without saying because it employs anonymous, unconscious ideologies. In this respect, unconscious ideologies are akin to cultural habits. We enact them all the time without thinking about them. And, in the case of unconscious ideologies, these unconscious habits in our thinking transform what is cultural or produced into what appears to be natural or just the way things are (Barthes, 1972). It is this process of transforming meanings from cultural to natural that I want to explore in relation to IR theory and IR myths. And it is this process that is explained though the myth function in IR theory.

The myth function in IR theory
IR theory is a site of cultural practice in which conscious and unconscious ideologies are circulated through stories that appear to be true. The stories we recognize and hold consciously we call IR traditions (like realism and idealism). The stories we don’t recognize as ideologies because we don’t have names for them and hold unconsciously I call IR myths (like “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war” and “there is an international society”) (see Box 1.4). While we debate the “truth” of IR stories organized into IR tradition, we rarely reflect on what makes these stories seem to make so much sense. In other words, we rarely consider how unconscious ideologies or IR myths function in these stories called IR traditions. Rather, we generally accept IR myths as forthright expressions of how the world works, and we allow these IR myths to function as the building blocks of IR traditions that narrate complicated explanations of how the world is and how it ought to be (see Box 1.5). If IR theory narrates a particular view of the world from the perspective of various IR traditions, an IR myth is what helps make a particular view of the world appear to be true. The myth function in IR theory is the transformation of what is particular, cultural, and ideological (like a story told by an IR tradition) into what

Box 1.4 What is an IR myth?
An IR myth is an apparent truth, usually expressed as a slogan, that an IR theory or tradition (like realism or idealism) relies upon in order to appear to be true. Examples: “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war”; and “there is an international society.”



Box 1.5 What is the myth function in IR theory?
The myth function in IR theory is the transformation of what is particular, cultural, and ideological (like a story told by an IR tradition) into what appears to be universal, natural, and purely empirical. Cultural interpretation → Myth function → “Natural fact”

appears to be universal, natural, and purely empirical. It is naturalizing meanings – making them into common sense – that are the products of cultural practices (Barthes, 1972). Put another way, the myth function in IR theory is making a “fact” out of an interpretation. Why describe this process as the myth function in IR theory? Because this process of making what is cultural and disputed into what is natural and therefore goes without saying is the work or the function IR myths perform in IR theory. Analyzing how these transformations from cultural meanings into naturalized facts occur in our everyday encounters with IR theory is the purpose of this book. And by undertaking this analysis, we are not only examining the intersections of IR theory and everyday cultural practices. We are also analyzing the intersections of IR theory and political power. Why is this the case? Transforming the cultural into the natural is a highly political practice that depends on all sorts of complex configurations of power. Precisely how power works to mythologize something cultural into something natural varies from context to context. But in a general sense, power works through myths by appearing to take the political out of the ideological. This is because something that appears to be natural and unalterable also appears to be apolitical. Yet these sorts of “natural facts” are arguably the most intensely political stories of all, not just because of what they say (what the specific myth is) but because of what they do (they remove themselves and the tradition they support from political debate). This is why Barthes refers to myths as “depoliticized speech” (Barthes, 1972). “Re-politicizing” IR theory and IR myths requires us to suspend our interest in the “truth” of IR theory (whether or not a specific theoretical interpretation is really right or wrong) so we can refocus our attention on how cultural configurations of power and ideology make a theory or story appear to be true.

Why myths?
Why focus our attention on IR myths? Why disrupt our sacred IR stories by proclaiming them to be composed of myths? And why consider the myth function in IR theory? Is the point to rid IR theory of culture and ideology? Certainly not! Cultural practices will always mediate our encounters with the so-called “facts” of international politics. And ideologies will always force us to consider questions of truth.



Asking questions about what makes IR theories function as if they were true is not the same thing as asking us to abandon our beloved myths. Nor does it amount to exposing IR myths as false because the truth or falsity of an IR myth can never be validated or invalidated. That’s part of what makes it so powerful. By asking questions about the myth function in IR theory, we will not lose our precious IR myths. Rather, these IR myths bound up in IR theories will lose some of their apparent truth. They will return to the realms of interpretation, culture, and ideology and cease to make unopposed claims to the status of being common sense, natural, or purely empirical. In other words, IR myths will return to the realm of the political where what they say and what they do can be analyzed and debated. By disrupting the apparent truth of IR myths, opportunities arise for new theories of IR to be written. Yet these, too, will be myths. So why bother interrogating the myth function in IR theory if we will never escape it? The answer to this question is in the question itself. Because we will never escape the myth function in IR theory, we had better interrogate it. We had better prepare ourselves to be the best critical readers of IR myths we possibly can be. Otherwise, we will just be repeating cherished stories about IR without grasping what makes these stories appear to be true, without appreciating what makes them function. We will be circulating a particular way of making sense of the world without knowing how to make sense of that sense. That would make us look pretty naïve.

Plan of the book
In the following chapters, we will interrogate the myth function in IR theory by addressing three aspects of everyday IR myths. 1 What does the myth say? Before we can critically analyze how a myth works (its function), we must first be familiar with what the myth says (its content). We will do four things to help us understand the content of each myth: a b c d select a classic IR text that uses the myth; situate the IR text in its particular IR tradition (like realism or idealism); summarize the text; explore how the IR text makes use of the IR myth.


For example, for the IR myth “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war,” we will do the following four things: select Kenneth Waltz’s texts Man, the State, and War and Theory of International Politics, situate them in relation to the IR traditions of realism and (neo)realism, summarize their main arguments, and explore how they use the IR myth “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war.” How does the myth function? If the myth function in IR theory is to succeed, it has to be invisible. We have to forget it is even taking place, that cultural meanings are being transformed into common sense. And, in all of the IR myths explored in this book, the myth function in IR theory is extremely successful. But this presents us with a



problem. How can we identify the myth function in IR theory? And how can we critically analyze the myth function in IR theory if IR theory does such a good job of explaining our world to us – to the point that we believe IR myths are true and the worlds they help to create are just the way things are? One answer is to think about IR theory in relation to “other worlds.” As critical readers of myths, we are more likely to recognize and be able to interrogate myths in worlds in which we do not live – other “cultures,” other times, other locations. But where can we find “other worlds” that are both different enough to our own so that we can critically read the myths in them and similar enough to our own so we can identify with them enough for them to make sense to us? My answer is to look to popular films for these “other worlds.” Popular films provide us with ready-made, somewhat delimited “other worlds.” In the vast cinemascapes of popular culture, there is no shortage of worlds for us to critically view. Even if a film is set in our “culture,” in our sovereign nationstate, and in our times, the world the film presents is not “our” world, for we do not occupy this cinemascape. Yet because the film tries to depict our world, we usually understand this “other world” and identify with it. This gap between occupying a cinematic world and identifying with it enables us to critically read “other worlds” and the myths in them. Another reason for turning to popular films is because they are one of the narrative spaces of visual culture. They are a way in which stories get told in visual culture. Nicholas Mirzoeff argues that “visual culture used to be seen as a distraction from the serious business of text and history. It is now the locus of cultural and historical change” (1999: 31). If that is the case, we had better learn how to read visual culture and the transformative processes that occur within it. Accessing visual culture though popular films allows us to consider the connections between IR theory and our everyday lives. Using popular films in this way helps us to get a sense of the everyday connections between “the popular” and “the political.” We can see, for example, how IR myths become everyday IR myths – because they are circulated, received, and criticized in and through everyday, popular forms like films. Drawing on these ideas, we will interrogate the myth function in IR theory by doing three things: a b c select a film that illustrates the myth function in a particular IR myth; summarize the film; relate the film to the IR myth. Here we will ask two important questions: • How does the film make sense of the world (Dyer, 1985)? • What does the film say is typical and deviant in that world (Dyer, 1985)?

The popular films used to explore the myth function in IR theory are: Lord of Flies, Independence Day, Wag the Dog, Fatal Attraction, The Truman Show, Memento, and East is East. Lord of the Flies reconsiders the realist/(neo)realist myth “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war”; Independence Day looks at the idealist myth “there is an international society”; Wag the Dog offers




insights into the constructivist myth “anarchy is what states make of it” and introduces us to the social constructivist/poststructuralist debate; Fatal Attraction illustrates and critiques the gender myth “gender is a variable” while exploring the gender/feminist debate; The Truman Show demonstrates how the neoliberal myth “it is the end of history” makes neoliberal theories of globalization function at the expense of historical materialist theories of globalization; Memento explores how the (neo)Marxist myth “Empire is the new world order” selectively remembers the (neo)Marxist/postmodernist debate; and East is East questions the notion of “civilizations” on which the myth “there is a clash of civilizations” depends. What does this critical analysis of the myth function in IR theory tell us about IR theory culturally, ideologically, and popularly? This question will be considered in the conclusion by asking two questions that take us directly to the power politics of IR theory: • • How does IR theory make sense of the world? What does IR theory say is typical and deviant in that world?

These questions take us to the heart of how IR theory produces and circulates meanings about international politics. They also point to the relationships among the politics of IR theory, the politics of the popular, and the politics of storytelling.

Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 Mythology as methodology
Roland Barthes proposed semiology as a methodology for exploring the ideological function of myths in his book Mythologies. While his early work focused on exposing and putting right the “ideological abuse” hidden in myths (and especially in “bourgeois norms”), Barthes’s later work explored more complex ways of thinking about how meanings are pluralized through reading and writing. Reading Barthes’s early work on myths through his later writings, like S/Z, produces what Laura Kipnis calls a “postmodernized Barthes.” It is a postmodernized Barthes who Craig Saper constructs and deploys in his book Artificial Mythologies. It is a similarly postmodernized Barthes who informs my reading of IR myths. For a sense of how to apply some of these ideas to reading films, James Monaco’s chapter on signs and syntax is helpful.

Suggested reading
Roland Barthes (1972) “Myth Today,” in Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers. New York: Noonday Press. Roland Barthes (1974) S/Z: An Essay, trans. Richard Miller. New York: Hill and Wang, pp. 3–16.


James Monaco (2000) “The Language of Film: Signs and Syntax,” in his How to Read a Film. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 152–225. Craig Saper (1997) “Introduction” to Artificial Mythologies. See also the “Preface” by Laura Kipnis. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Topic 2 Culture, form, and IR theory
The conversation about “cultures” is an old one in international politics, especially in those variants of international studies that tend toward what might be called “area studies” – studies of particular regions of the world. Some very rigid ways of thinking about culture continue to be circulated in IR theory, especially in the wake of the end of the Cold War, as the work of Samuel Huntington illustrates (see Chapter 8). Another strain of discussions involves critical ways of thinking about culture, cultural forms, and their relationships to IR theory. Some of these have been ushered into the field of international studies thanks to critical ways of thinking about identity politics. Yosef Lapid and Friedrich Krotochwil, for example, challenge IR theorists to change their conceputalizations of IR theory by “adding” a critical conception of culture to their work. Another position, expressed by Roland Blieker, is less concerned with revising the content of IR theory through the inclusion of critical considerations of culture than it is with thinking about how different cultural forms, like poetry, offer us ways not to “add” culture or cultural forms to IR theory but to move beyond the tired debates that traditional expressions of IR theory require. Following the lead of Michael Shapiro’s work that takes IR debates about culture beyond the nation-state and into cinematic states, François Debrix and Cynthia Weber carry the discussion of culture to transnational spaces while Jutta Weldes takes it out of this world altogether.

Suggested reading
Roland Blieker (1997) “Forget IR Theory,” Alternatives 22(1): 57–85. François Debrix and Cynthia Weber (eds) (2003) Riturals of Mediation: International Politics and Social Meanings. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Yosef Lapid and Friedrich Kratochvil (eds) (1996) The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. Michael Shapiro (1997) Violent Cartographies: Mapping Cultures of War. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Michael Shapiro (1999) Cinematic Political Thought: Narrating Race, Nation and Gender. New York: New York University Press. Jutta Weldes (1999) “Going Cultural: Star Trek, State Action, and Popular Culture,” Millennium 28(1): 117–34. Jutta Weldes (ed.) (2003) To Seek Out New Worlds: Exploring Links between Science Fiction and World Politics. London: Palgrave Macmillan.




Is international anarchy the permissive cause of war?

What does the myth say? Lord of the Flies The function of fear in Waltz’s anarchy myth Suggestions for further thinking Note on the US film of Lord of the Flies

17 23 31 33 34



The claim that international politics is anarchical is almost universally embraced by IR theorists and practitioners (for an alternative view, see Chapter 7). This is in part because the myth of international anarchy seems to so straightforwardly describe what we know about international politics. First, the anarchy myth assumes that international politics is composed of sovereign nation-states and that these sovereign nation-states are beholden to no higher power. That is what it means to be sovereign – for a state to have absolute authority over its territory and people and to have independence internationally. In international theory, all states in international politics are assumed to be sovereign, even though there are debates about degrees and/or kinds of sovereignty (Jackson, 1990). And while some IR theorists consider sovereignty itself to be a myth (Biersteker and Weber, 1996), most regard it as the primary fact of international political life. The second “fact” of international political life – and the second assumption of the anarchy myth – is that there is no world government. This is why sovereign nation-states are beholden to no higher power. There just is no higher power than that of a sovereign nation-state. Because there is no higher power that a state must obey, states are said to have international independence. This is so even if a state joins an international organization like the UN or NATO. This does not impinge on a state’s sovereignty or international independence because state membership in these organizations is voluntary. So a state can quit an organization if it wants to. Combining the absence of world government with state sovereignty, many IR theorists conclude that international politics is anarchical. But this conclusion only makes sense if one more assumption is made. This third assumption has to do with the meaning of anarchy. In political theory, “anarchy” denotes a lack of order. We usually describe states experiencing civil wars as anarchical, for example. But in international theory, “anarchy” denotes a lack of an orderer – someone or something who/which self-consciously imposes order in a top-down way onto sovereign nation-states. So in international theory anarchy prevails even if there is order (like power balancing among sovereign nation-states or one hegemonic state being able to call most of the shots like the US does). These sorts of “order” are still considered to be anarchical because there is no world government (see Box 2.1). There are countless versions of the anarchy myth, each with a very different way of describing and mythologizing the “realities” of international anarchy. Yet of all of these anarchy myths, the one that is the best known and the most widely accepted is Kenneth Waltz’s myth “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war,” a myth that dates back to 1954.

Box 2.1 Three assumptions of the international anarchy myth
1 2 3 International politics is composed of sovereign nation-states There is no world government, which means there is no international orderer The absence of a world government or orderer by definition means that international politics is anarchical



Why is Waltz’s myth “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war” so influential? And why has it endured for half a century? One reason is that it does more than make anarchy the context in which sovereign nation-states carry out their day-to-day politics. In Waltz’s anarchy myth, international anarchy becomes the answer to the question that spawned IR theory as an academic discipline after World War I. That question is “Why do wars occur?” By causally linking international anarchy to war, Waltz did more to popularize the anarchy myth than any other IR theorist before him or since. Another reason has to do with the historical timing of Waltz’s myth. As a US academic writing during the Cold War, Waltz seemed to explain the constant disposition to go to war that existed between the US and the Soviet blocs. With no world government, cold war could (and often did) become hot war at any time. US policy-makers had to plan accordingly by (they believed) increasing US defenses. And so Waltz’s myth persisted as accepted theoretical and diplomatic wisdom in the US until (at least) the end of the Cold War. Yet another reason is that Waltz’s anarchy myth has been theorized from the perspectives of both realism and new or (neo)realism (see Table 2.1). Both realism and (neo)realism accept the three fundamental assumptions that make the anarchy myth function – first, that the world is composed of sovereign nation-states; second, that there is no world government which means there is no international orderer; and third, that the absence of world government or an international orderer by definition means that international politics is anarchical. From these three elements, realists and (neo)realists both predict that sovereign nation-states in a system of international anarchy will behave conflictually. While individual wars may be stopped from time to time, war itself cannot be transcended. But why?

Table 2.1 Realism vs. (neo)realism Realism Interest of states How to achieve survival Survival Increase power because world government unachievable Man is flawed and therefore prone to conflict. This explains why cooperation is never guaranteed and world government is unachievable The environment in which sovereign nation-states act (Neo)realism Survival Increase power because world government unachievable Man may or may not be flawed. Human nature is not essential to an explanation of conflict

Human nature


Describes the social relations among sovereign nation-states that causally explain why wars occur



Realists and (neo)realists agree that the overriding goal of states in this environment of international anarchy is to survive. This is their overriding interest. And the only way that states can reasonably ensure their survival is to increase their power. Power protects states because states with less power might fear those with more power and therefore be less likely to attack them. Additionally, realists and (neo)realists agree that there is no way out of international anarchy. It is unrealistic to think that a world government could be formed because states would never be secure enough – and therefore trusting enough – to give up their power to a world government. With all this in common, what do realists and (neo)realists disagree about? One thing they disagree about is the issue of human nature. Realists like Hans Morgenthau, for example, argue that the nature of man (and he meant the gender exclusive term “man”; see Tickner, 1992: Chapter 2) is fundamentally flawed. In Morgenthau’s account, man may not be purely evil, but he is certainly tainted by original sin. And that means that pessimism about how man and groups of men (organized into sovereign nation-states) will behave is the only realistic way to approach international politics. At its root, then, international politics will remain anarchical and conflictual because of the nature of man. (Neo)realists, of whom Kenneth Waltz was the first, disagree. They argue that instead of looking to “natural” causes of conflict, we need to look to “social” ones instead. Following Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Waltz argues that the organization of social relations rather than the nature of man is what determines whether or not we have war. Why? Because good men behave badly in bad social organizations, and bad men can be stopped from behaving badly if they are in good social organizations. States go to war, then, because they are in a bad social organization. And Waltz calls that bad social organization international anarchy. “International anarchy is the permissive cause of war.” So, realists and (neo)realists differ on how they conceptualize international anarchy. For realists, it is just the environment in which sovereign nation-states act. For (neo)realists, international anarchy describes the social relations among sovereign nation-states that causally explain why wars occur. In this chapter, I will consider the myth “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war” and the specific uses Kenneth Waltz makes of this myth. I will do so by examining what have become two of the most famous books about IR theory, both authored by Waltz. In the first, Man, the State, and War (first published in 1954), Waltz makes his famous argument that “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war.” In the second, Theory of International Politics (1979), Waltz extends international anarchy from a cause of war into a systemic ordering principle of the international system, a move which gives birth to the tradition of (neo)realism. I will summarize the arguments Waltz makes in each of these books, relate his arguments to the myth “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war,” and reconsider the myth function of Waltz’s arguments about international anarchy through the film Lord of the Files. Lord of the Flies tells a story about moving from one type of order (hierarchy) into another (anarchy), suggesting that anarchy is what allows conflict to occur. As such, it illustrates the arguments Waltz makes in his two books. Yet Lord of the Flies also offers insights into what makes Waltz’s anarchy myth function by showing us how fear is both a crucial and an externalized component of this myth (Ashley, 1989).



Without fear, Waltz’s arguments fail to be persuasive. What would international politics be like if fear functioned differently than it does in Waltz’s myth? What would this mean for IR theory? These are the sorts of questions a functional analysis of Waltz’s work allows us to consider.

What does the myth say?
Why do wars occur? This is the question Kenneth Waltz asked himself in the early 1950s. Waltz’s question is as old as war itself, possibly because “to explain how peace can be more readily achieved requires an understanding of the causes of war” (Waltz, 1959: 2). By the time Waltz posed this question, many answers to it already existed. These answers fell into three categories (or, as IR theorists came to define them, were found at the three “levels of analysis” or in the “three images”). These three categories/levels/images are: the individual, the state, and the state system. In Man, the State, and War, Waltz argued that the major causes of war are to be found at each of these levels of analysis, with none of them alone being sufficient to explain why wars do or do not occur. How did Waltz come to this conclusion? He began by looking at the first category/level/image – man. For Waltz, as for so many other IR theorists, the term “man” denotes the individual level and particularly an interest in human nature, forgetting of course that not all individuals are men. The first image explanation of war goes like this: the locus of the important causes of war is found in the nature and behavior of man. War results from selfishness, from misdirected aggressive impulses, from stupidity. . . . If these are the primary causes of war, then the elimination of war must come through uplifting and enlightening men or securing their psychic-social readjustment. (Waltz, 1959: 16) This is the “men behaving badly” explanation of war. Man behaves badly because he is bad by nature. He acts unreasonably or he prioritizes selfish goals over communitarian goals, and this is why conflicts and wars occur. This is the sort of “natural man” realist IR scholars invoke to explain the recurrence and repetition of wars. But, as idealist IR theorists point out, men do not always behave badly (see Chapter 3). Some men seem to be good by nature – they act reasonably to pursue the common good. There is a fundamental goodness to man, and if that fundamental goodness could be universalized – if all men could access their fundamental goodness – then all men could behave well. Conflicts and wars could be averted altogether. In reviewing these pessimistic and optimistic descriptions of the nature of man, Waltz noted a couple of problems. First, he suggested that the “causal importance of human nature” is generally exaggerated by all human nature theorists. Can we really say that human nature alone causes war? Not for Waltz, for how can pessimists explain why wars don’t occur all the time and how can optimists explain why they occur some of the time? Human nature explanations of war don’t seem to account



for variations in the presence or absence of war. And, anyway, don’t good men as well as bad men sometimes make war? Waltz concludes that human nature is too complex to be so directly and causally linked to war as the sole explanation for why wars occur (Waltz, 1959: 40). Second, this insufficiency of human nature to explain the presence or absence of war means that we must look to social and political institutions to supplement our understanding of why wars occur. For example, if human nature cannot be changed – whether it is always good or bad – then we cannot decrease the occurrence of war by trying to change it. All we can do is look to social and political institutions that do change and try to change them to decrease the likelihood of war. Conversely, if human nature can be changed, then we still need to look to social and political institutions because human nature would be changed through interactions with these institutions. All this leads Waltz to conclude that human nature itself is never sufficient to explain the presence or absence of war. It must be supplemented by an analysis of social and political institutions. This leads Waltz to investigate second level/image explanations of the causes of war. At the second level of analysis, Waltz asks whether the occurrence of wars can be explained by the internal organization of states and societies. Just as first-image theorists argue there are good and bad men, second-image theorists argue there are good and bad states, either because of their formal governmental arrangements (democratic vs. autocratic, for example; see Chapter 3) or their less formal social arrangements (who owns the means of production; see Chapter 6). Like first image analyses, second-image theories claim that bad actors (this time states) make war, and good actors preserve the peace. But, as before, these sorts of explanations raise critical questions for Waltz. For example, if bad states make war, what will change bad states to good states? (Waltz, 1959: 114). Not surprisingly, there is no agreement among second image theorists on just what to do. Some suggest good states would be democratic, others say they should be monarchical, others still say socialist (Waltz, 1959: 120). And, Waltz suggests, even if second-image theorists could agree on what a good state was, there is still no guarantee that a world of “good states” would be a peaceful world. Like “good men,” “good states” sometimes make war. Once again, Waltz concludes that this level of analysis is incomplete. This state level needs to be supplement by the international level, for, as Waltz puts it, “the international political environment has much to do with the ways in which states behave” (Waltz, 1959: 122–3). And this leads Waltz to consider the third level of analysis or third image in his quest to understand why wars occur. Waltz summarizes the third image as follows: “With many sovereign states, with no system of law enforceable among them, with each state judging its grievances and ambitions according to the dictates of its own reason or desire – conflict, sometimes leading to war, is bound to occur” (Waltz, 1959: 159). It is worth quoting a somewhat lengthy passage by Waltz in which he details the linkages between anarchy, state actions, and conflict. In anarchy there is no automatic harmony. . . . A state will use force to attain its goals if, after assessing the prospects for success, it values those goals more than it values the pleasures of peace. Because each state is the final judge of



its own cause, any state may at any time use force to implement its policies. Because any state may at any time use force, all states must constantly be ready either to counter force with force or to pay the cost of weakness. The requirements of state action are, in this view, imposed by the circumstances in which all states exist. (Waltz, 1959: 160) In a situation of international anarchy as Waltz describes it, no “supreme authority” like an international government can stop states from forcefully pursuing their own interests. Waltz concludes that “war occurs because there is nothing to prevent it” (Waltz, 1959: 188). This is why Waltz describes international anarchy as “a permissive or underlying cause of war” (Waltz, 1959: 232). As a permissive cause of war, international anarchy is also the limit on states’ abilities to cooperate with one another. Because there is no one to enforce cooperation, states will act in their own self-interests rather than in the interests of the state system. Waltz elaborates this point with reference to the parable of the stage hunt, told by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Assume that five men who have acquired a rudimentary ability to speak and to understand each other happen to come together at a time when all of them suffer from hunger. The hunger of each will be satisfied by the fifth part of stag, so they “agree” to co-operate in a project to trap one. But also the hunger of any one of them will be satisfied by a hare, so, as a hare comes within reach, one of them grabs it. The defector obtains the means of satisfying his hunger but in doing so permits the stag to escape. His immediate interest prevails over consideration for his fellows. (Waltz, 1959: 167–8) So, for Waltz, international anarchy explains both why wars ultimately may occur and why there are limits on cooperation among states in the international system. Without a leader to punish a hunter who defected from the stag hunt or an international government to punish a rogue state, cooperation can never be guaranteed and conflict is always a serious possibility. Yet even though Waltz argues that only international anarchy has the power to explain why wars may occur, he stresses that individual and state-level factors still need to be considered when we think about why specific wars do occur. For Waltz, the first and second images constitute the immediate causes of war. If individuals and states do not pursue war-like policies or do not pursue selfish interests that could not also be understood as in the general interest of all states, then even though the third image of international anarchy permits the occurrence of war, there would be no war (Waltz, 1959: 238). Another way to put it is like this: if individuals and states have nothing to fear from one another, then they have no cause to fight wars with one another. Something in addition to international anarchy is always required to explain why we move from a situation in which wars may occur to a situation in which wars do occur. Overall, then, in Man, the State, and War, Waltz argues that all three images need to be considered together to determine whether or not wars will occur (see Table 2.2).


REALISM Table 2.2 Causes of war for Waltz Location First image Second image Description Nature of man International organization of states and societies International anarchy Type of cause Immediate Immediate

Third image


And because Waltz locates the immediate causes of war in either individual men or states understood as collective men, realist are able to embrace his myth “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war.” Theory of International Politics might be described as a book in which Waltz both builds on and forgets much of what he wrote in Man, the State, and War. What Waltz builds on is the weight which he gives to international anarchy in explaining international conflict. What he forgets is to include first- and second-image explanations in his analysis of why wars occur. In this later book, then, there are no serious discussions of individuals or of the internal arrangements of states and society. Sovereign nation-states are Waltz’s principal actors, but instead of the complexity they had in Man, the State, and War, Waltz now discusses them as (at worst) billiard balls that knock one another around or (at best) firms that freely compete with one another in the international system (Waltz, 1979: 91). To be fair to Waltz, Theory of International Politics is not meant to have the wide sweep of Man, the State, and War. Waltz claims that this later book is concerned only with elaborating the workings of the international level. But this later book is in some ways not just an extension of the earlier book. This is because instead of arguing that an understanding of the international requires an understanding of individual and state-level factors as he did in Man, the State, and War, Waltz elevates his third image of international anarchy into a principle that at times seems to be downright determinist. International anarchy has much more explanatory purchase in Theory of International Politics than it did in Man, the State, and War. International anarchy seems to dictate how states in the state system must behave, rather than suggest (as it did in his earlier book) how they might behave. This is because in Theory of International Politics, international anarchy becomes the structural ordering principle of international politics, from which all state behaviors seem to flow. As a result, Theory of International Politics marks a clear break between realism and (neo)realism. Without getting into too much dry detail, Waltz’s argument in Theory of International Politics is this (summarized in Table 2.3). The behavior of actors in a system depends on how they are organized. The two major forms of organization that matter for politics are hierarchy and anarchy. Hierarchy describes how politics is organized within states – with a clear center that has a monopoly on the legitimate uses of power and a distribution of labor among various branches of government. Anarchy describes how politics is organized globally, between states in the international system – with no clear center of power, significant power held by at


REALISM Table 2.3 Waltzian (neo)realism Structure Ordering principle Domestic • Hierarchy • Centered • Anarchy • Decentered Formal differentiation • Heterogeneous • Dissimilar Heterogeneous Distrubution of power Monopoly



Consequences Political processes Domestic Global Specialization • Imitation • Balancing Relationships High interdependence Low interdependence Goals Maximize welfare Maximize security

least two states (or poles as they are called in IR theory), and each state functioning like every other state in international politics because there is no division of labor to speak of among states. Waltz argues that these different structures of hierarchy and anarchy – these different ways of organizing political power – result in different consequences for actors. Again, actors will behave differently depending on how they are organized. So, for example, within a domestic, hierarchical organization, political processes can be specialized because there are different branches and levels of government, these various government sectors are all highly interdependent on one another, and their overriding goal is to maximize the welfare of the citizens of their states. In contrast, within a global, anarchical organization, states cannot be specialized because there is just one state doing all the tasks. Therefore, rather than specializing, states in the state system imitate one another’s behaviors. They attempt to be as independent of other states as they can be, and they strive to maximize the international security of their state (Waltz, 1979: Chapter 5). What this means for the everyday practices of states is that domestically, states strive to make life as good as they can for their citizens. Quality-of-life issues prevail domestically, and, importantly, they can prevail because security issues are mostly solved within states. Certainly, crimes and sometimes rebellions occur, but there is a general agreement within a state as to where authority resides and therefore who can exercise power. With security issues muted within states, states can focus on welfare issues. In contrast, Waltz argues, security issues are never solved within the state system. Because there is no orderer – because international anarchy prevails – there is never anything or anyone to prevent conflicts from occurring. States are forced to look out for their own interests. The overriding interest of a state is to survive



– to carry on being a state. And, Waltz argues, in a situation of structural anarchy, the best chance states have for surviving is to maximize their power. Sure, states could all give up their power to some world government and transform international anarchy into international hierarchy. Then states could cease to worry about security issues and focus on issues of international welfare. But Waltz (who is often called a structural, new, or (neo)realist) agrees with other realists that this is a utopian pipe dream. It isn’t going to happen. And, even if it did, then we’d be discussing what happens in hierarchical structures, whereas the point of Waltz’s Theory of International Politics is to elaborate what happens in anarchical structures. In international anarchy, because all states recognize that it is in their overriding self-interest to maximize their power, that’s what Waltz says they do. To do anything else is crazy because a state without enough power is a vulnerable state. And, anyway, it is too scary for states not to try to maximize their power. This is what Waltz calls the “security dilemma.” He argues that when one state sees another state trying to increase its power to increase its security, it gets scared, feels threatened, and recognizes that it too must increase its power. But, of course, that scares the other states, and basically there is this mad spiral in which all states are trying to have more power than all other states. According to Waltz, this competition for power among states is not always as dangerous as it at first sounds. It doesn’t have to lead to war, so long as no state has significantly more power than another state or coalition of states, so long as states in combination are in a stable “balance of power” arrangement. But power does not always balance out like this. Waltz argues that power is most likely to balance out in this way when there are only two poles – when there is a bipolar system. When there are more then two poles, things get trickier. Balances are harder to strike. Risks increase. Wars are more likely to occur. International anarchy remains the permissive cause of war (Waltz, 1979: Chapter 6). Overall, Waltz’s two books mythologize international anarchy as the permissive cause of war. The first book explicitly links anarchy to war, while the second book explains state behavior – whether conflictual or merely competitive – from the first principle of international anarchy. And both books reserve a place for fear as what either explains the immediate causes of war (men or states behaving badly) or the seemingly inevitable behaviors of states locked into a competition for power in international anarchy. The film Lord of the Flies cleverly plays with these themes of good and bad individuals, good and bad “states,” and differing forms of organization (hierarchy vs. anarchy). As such, it nicely illustrates many of the points Waltz makes in his two books. But, most importantly for our purposes, Lord of the Flies invites us to reconsider the use Waltz makes of fear in his analyses of international anarchy. In Man, the State, and War, states may fear one another because of the bad behavior of either ruling individuals or rogue states. Fear, in other words, is located in the first or second image. But by the time we get to Theory of International Politics, fear seems to be located in the third image – in international anarchy itself because it is anarchy that makes states behave as they do (to maximize their power) and it is consequently this behavior that leads other states to fear them. Lord of the Flies explores all of these locations of fear, while suggesting one more. Maybe fear is not something fixed in one or more levels of analysis. Maybe



fear is not a consequence of state behavior in a system of structural anarchy. Instead, maybe fear is something that is actually missing in a situation of international anarchy, and because it is missing it must be invented and skillfully deployed. Put differently, maybe fear is the final supplement or addition to Waltz’s myth that “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war,” a supplement not necessarily found in any of his three images (Ashley, 1989).

Lord of the Flies
The film Lord of the Flies is based on William Golding’s novel of the same name which was published in 1954, the same year Waltz’s Man, the State, and War was published. The 1963 British version of the film, directed by Peter Brook, was re-released in the British Classics video series in 1999. An American version of the film, directed by Harry Hook, was released in 1994. The American film version makes several critical deviations from Golding’s novel that present obstacles to rethinking Waltz’s anarchy myth through it (see “Note on the US film of Lord of the Flies,” p. 34). In contrast, the British version follows Golding’s novel more closely and, it must be said, is simply a more powerful presentation of the story. It is for these reasons that I will focus my attention on the British 1963 version of the film. Lord of the Flies is set during World War II when the UK was being bombed by Germany. Because of the heavy bombing many English cities experienced, a mass exodus of British children was organized – some to the British countryside and others out of the UK altogether. Such is the plight of the British schoolboys (aged about 5 to 12) we encounter in the film. They are presumably being flown from war-torn Britain to Australia when their plane crashes on a remote, uninhabited Pacific island. No adults survive the crash. The opening photomontage and soundtrack depict the boys’ transition from life in England to life on the island. In it are seen and heard the sights and sounds of English school life – boys in a class photo, at their desks, in the dining hall, in chapel, playing cricket and teachers organizing their activities and watching over them. Then, abruptly, the pace at which images and sounds are introduced quickens, and we see and hear missile launches, war planes, and bombing raids violently inserted into the montage. Finally, we see photos of the boys’ planned evacuation, their plane caught in a storm, a map of the Pacific, and the plane crashing near an island. The photomontage ends, and the action begins. This opening starkly introduces the two worlds of Lord of the Flies – the lost world of hierarchy from which the boys have just exited and the island world of anarchy they have just entered. Hierarchy is marked by rules, reason, law and order, all of which are ensured (at least from the boys’ point of view) by the presence of grown-ups. Anarchy is unmarked as the film opens. The film is the story of how the boys behave in a situation of anarchy, in a world without adults (see Table 2.4). How Lord of the Flies makes sense of the world is by exploring what happens to boys when they move from one world (the world of school/home/nation-state) into another world (the lost island world). What these two worlds represent is a reversal of what the boys are accustomed to as typical and deviant. In the familiar world of school/home/nation-state, what is typical of the world is hierarchy and what


REALISM Table 2.4 How does Lord of the Flies represent hierarchy and anarchy? Hierarchy Characterized by rules, reason, law and order, all of which are guaranteed by the presence of adults Anarchy Characterized by the absence of guarantees to order or reason because of the absence of adults

Table 2.5 What is typical and what is deviant in the two worlds of Lord of the Flies? Familiar world Typical Deviant Hierarchy Anarchy Island world Anarchy Hierarchy

is deviant in that world is anarchy. But in the lost island world the boys now find themselves inhabiting, anarchy is typical and hierarchy is deviant (see Table 2.5). How will the boys cope in this deviant, new world of anarchy? Not surprisingly, the boys’ first coping strategy is an attempt to create hierarchy within anarchy. There may be no grown-ups on the island, but that does not mean there has to be an absence of civilized order. As one of the boys puts it, “We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything. So we’ve got to do the right things.” The boys are not only all English. They are all English schoolboys. This means that even though the boys are from different schools (indicated by their different uniforms), they have an implicit if not explicit knowledge of social codes that can be mobilized to create and sustain organizing hierarchies. And this is precisely what the boys draw on to establish their new order. The boys elect Ralph as their leader. Ralph is the boy who was responsible for bringing all the stranded boys on the island together by blowing into a conch shell as one would blow on a trumpet. The conch becomes the symbol of rules and rights. Whoever holds the conch at assembly has the right to speak and be heard. Jack, the leader of a group of choir boys from one school, is the only boy who could really challenge Ralph’s leadership. Ralph wisely gives Jack control over his choir, and Jack (who seems to be the only boy on the island in possession of a knife) decides that they will be hunters. Piggy, the voice of reason from the old world, is responsible for taking names and minding the little ones. These jobs suit Piggy for, as his name implies, he is physically unfit for much else. Life goes on rather blissfully for some time. Images of happy boys working together to build shelters, playing games and gathering fruit fill the screen. Jack’s boys amuse themselves by exploring the island and trying to kill wild boar. However they spend their time, all the boys agree that they have one overriding goal in common – to be rescued. They decide to build a fire on the mountain top that they will keep going so a plane or a ship might see them. Jack volunteers his hunters for



Plate 2.1 Ralph blows the conch shell to call the stranded school boys to assembly.
Courtesy of Lord of the Flies co. Supplied by The British Film Institute.

this job. The rules seem to be well in place, and everyone seems to be working within them for the common good. All proceeds well until one day a plane flies overhead, and Ralph and the other boys on the beach realize that the fire has gone out. Jack’s hunters are euphoric because they have killed their first wild boar. But because of their increased attention to their “need for meat,” they have neglected to uphold their part of the bargain – keeping the fire alight. Jack’s boys have shifted their priorities. The film represents this change both visually and musically. Visually, Jack appears increasingly warriorlike as the film proceeds – first with his knife, then his spear, and finally with his painted face. Musically, the peaceful, civilized music Jack’s choir sang as they first entered the film gives way over the course of the film to a drummed, war-like rendition of their Latin song. In many scenes, a chant about hunting and killing unites Jack’s choir/hunters, and not their original song. It is not surprising that goals would diverge and agreements would be abandoned in the absence of an orderer. As Waltz would remind us, in a situation of structural anarchy, there is nothing or no one to enforce the rules or common goals. Yet, at this stage anyway, there is an orderer, and that orderer is Ralph. He was elected chief by the other boys. But his interests and those of Jack begin to conflict. Jack is interested in hunting, a skill that will help the boys survive on the island. This is his immediate reality and his immediate aim. In contrast, Ralph is more interested



Plate 2.2 Jack’s choir boys.
Courtesy of Lord of the Flies co. Supplied by The British Film Institute.

in the longer-term possibly of rescue because he does not believe the boys can survive indefinitely on the island. As the film proceeds, this conflict of interests is exacerbated until the hierarchy of Ralph as elected chief breaks down because Jack directly challenges him. The challenge begins when Ralph tries to protect Piggy’s right to speak because Piggy is holding the conch. Jack interrupts Piggy: Shut up you fat slug. Ralph: Jack, let him speak. He’s got the conch! Jack: And you shut up you. Who are you anyway just sitting there telling people what to do? You can’t hunt, you can’t sing. Ralph: I’m chief. I was chosen. Jack: Why should choosing make any difference, telling people what to do? Ralph: The rules, you’re breaking the rules. Jack: Who cares! Ralph: Because the rules are the only thing we got. Jack: Bullocks to the rules. In this scene, Ralph is right. Indeed, he is too right for his own good. The rules are all the boys have of the hierarchy they attempt to create in this world without



grown-ups. But because they don’t have any grown-ups – because they don’t have anyone whose authority is unchallenged because of their structural position – there is no way to enforce the rules. As Jack proves in this scene, the rules mean nothing without the power of enforcement. It isn’t long after this that the hierarchy the boys cling to unravels altogether. Jack leaves the group, going off on his own. He is eventually joined by Roger (a hunter) and then the rest of the hunters. Increasingly, the boys break up into two distinct societies on the island – those organized around the principle of rescue who work at keeping the fire going and those organized around the principle of survival who spend their time hunting wild boar. As time goes on, almost all of the boys join Jack’s “tribe.” He gives them food. He offers them protection. And things get even worse from this point. Not only are the boys divided over what goals to prioritize, but they end up in deadly conflict with one another. It seems to begin with the humiliation of Ralph and Piggy, underscoring their weakness by feeding them bananas when they have asked to share the meat of a kill. Then Jack and his boys steal Piggy’s glasses, thereby taking control over the ability to make fire and leaving Ralph and Piggy nothing immediate to offer the boys, apart from the fading possibility of rescue. When Ralph and Piggy go to Jack’s end of the island in an attempt to get Piggy’s glasses back, Jack and his tribe treat them badly by taunting them and threatening them. And then Roger intentionally pushes a rock over the cliff, killing Piggy (the voice of hierarchical reason) who is holding the conch (the symbol of rules and order). Ralph runs away, only to be eventually hunted by Jack and his tribe. Jack’s tribe smoke Ralph out of the forest by setting it on fire. Ralph scrambles through the forest, pursued by Jack’s boys, as the hunting chants of Jack’s tribe grow louder and louder in Ralph’s head. Eventually, Ralph makes his way to the beach. He falls at the feet of a British naval officer, who has come to investigate the island because of the massive fire. The soundtrack falls silent, as Ralph and the boys pursuing him try to comprehend their situation. The camera focuses on the naval officer and his crew. The soundtrack plays again, this time a trumpet arrangement of the original choir music so sweetly sung by Jack’s boys earlier. Anarchy gives way to hierarchy. Order is restored. The stunned boys prepare to reenter the world of enforceable hierarchy that they left so long ago. Lord of the Flies seems to make a pretty good case for Waltz’s myth that “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war” and that in a world of structural anarchy, the necessary pursuit of survival in this self-help world may well lead to conflict. Whether one goes with Waltz’s thesis in Man, the State, and War, that an immediate cause of war like human nature (a first image problem) or bad social organization (a second-image problem) is needed to supplement international anarchy or his thesis in Theory of International Politics, that the structure of anarchy is enough to explain why competition among actors will occur, thereby leading to the possibility of either balancing or war, Lord of the Flies seems to support his myth that “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war.” The film takes us through five moves that support Waltz’s myth. First, there is the loss of hierarchy (no adults). Second, there is the attempt to reimpose hierarchy with rules and elections. Third, hierarchy fails because there is no one to enforce the rules. Forth, conflict breaks out among the boys, resulting in a war



Box 2.2 Where does fear figure in Waltz’s myth as enacted in Lord of the Flies?
Loss of hierarchy (symbolized by lack of adults) Reestablishment of hierarchy with rules and election (symbolized by the conch shell) Fear becomes widespread among boys (symbolized by their belief in the beast) This is what goes without saying in Waltz’s myth Hierarchy fails (symbolized by Jack leaving the group and staring a rival group) Conflict occurs (Jack’s and Ralph’s groups fight/Piggy is killed) Anarchy ends (symbolized by the rescue of the boys and the reintroduction of adults)

between the two groups and the intentional killing of Piggy. Finally, anarchy ends with the reintroduction of adult authority. Even though this is where the film ends, we know that the behavior the boys exhibited on the island will not match their behavior in the world of adults. The music, if nothing else, confirms this. As compelling a case as this may be for Waltz’s thesis, there is a crucial move missing from the above list – a move that puts Waltz’s thesis about anarchy into doubt. For, as this missing move demonstrates, it is not just the lack of hierarchy that leads to conflict or that makes it possible. What is missing from this list and what is clearly illustrated in the film is the supplemental function of fear in Waltz’s anarchy myth. Without fear, the move from hierarchy to anarchy is not necessarily the move from the ability to prevent war to the inability to prevent war (see Box 2.2). As Lord of the Flies tells the story of the boys’ departure from hierarchy and their making sense of their lives in anarchy – marking anarchy first by cooperation and then by conflict – it also tells a parallel story about the boys’ increasing fear. Certainly, there is the fear of being on an uninhabited island in the aftermath of a plane crash without any adults. But in addition to this rational fear, the film introduces more and more irrational fear. Initially, this fear is something held by the little boys. One of them asks early on what the bigger boys are going to do about the “snake-thing.” Ralph: The snake-thing? Piggy [into whose ear the little boy is speaking for Piggy to speak for him at the assembly]: Now he says it was a beastie. Ralph: Beastie? [He and the other boys laugh] Piggy: A snake-thing, ever so big. He saw it.



Ralph: When? Piggy: When he was hiding in the jungle in the dark. He says, “When the rain stopped, it turned into one of them things like ropes in the trees and hung in the branches.” He says, “Will it come back tonight?” The boys look scared. Ralph: But there isn’t a beastie. I tell you, there isn’t a beast. Jack: Ralph’s right, of course. There isn’t a snake-thing. But if there was, we’d hunt and kill it. In this scene, the beast is introduced by a little boy, and its existence is denied by both Ralph and Jack. But there is a critical difference between how Ralph and Jack deal with the existence of a beast. Ralph sticks firmly to the argument that there is no beast. Jack, in contrast, seems to agree with Ralph, yet he leaves open the possibility that there is a beast by saying that “if there was, we’d hunt and kill it.” Something that does not exist does not need to be hunted and killed. It is Jack, not a little boy, who next brings up the beast. He does so when he defends his hunters for their neglect of the fire when the plane passed overhead. He tells the boys at assembly: Jack: We’re hunters. And if there is a beast, it is my hunters who will protect you from it. Jack leans down to a little boy, Percival, who Jack then speaks for. Jack: He says the beast comes out of the sea. The boys look scared. Another boy: My daddy said they hadn’t found all the animals in the sea. My daddy said there are animals – what do you call them – that make ink and are hundreds of feet long and eat whales whole. Someone else shouts: A squid can’t come out of the water. Another boy: Maybe he means its some kind of ghost. Another boy: Maybe that’s what the beast is – some kind of ghost. Piggy: I don’t believe in no ghosts, ever. Jack: Who cares what you believe, fatty. [Laughter] Simon: Maybe there is a beast . . . What I mean is, maybe it’s only us. Someone: Nuts. Ralph: We should have left this ’til daylight. We’re tired. We’ll have a vote – on ghosts I mean. And then we’ll go back to the shelters. Who thinks there may be ghosts? Almost all the boys raise their hands. While Jack is increasingly using the beast as a way to shift the boys’ priorities from being rescued on the island to surviving on the island, the fear of the beast has spread from just the little boys to almost all of the boys. And, as Jack realizes, encouraging the boys’ belief in and fear of the beast is a good way to challenge Ralph’s authority. It is after this meeting that Jack says bullocks to the rules, that the hierarchy the boys created on this anarchical island turns competitive rather than cooperative.



Soon after this meeting, the twins Sam and Eric think they see the beast on a mountain top. They saw something swaying in the breeze. They say as they ran down the mountain, the beast followed them and nearly caught them. Jack cries, “We’ll hunt it.” Jack, Ralph, and a group of bigger boys go to hunt the beast. The hunt lasts until after dark, when the boys arrive on the mountain top and see “the beast.” They run down the mountain screaming. The “truth” of the beast has now been established. It is only after the beast seems to move from fiction to fact that Jack gets fed up with Ralph’s rules about fires and rescue and leaves the group, to be joined eventually by his hunters and most of the other boys. One day, after Jack’s tribe has killed another wild boar, Jack cuts off the boar’s head and leaves it as a gift for the beast. As Jack and his tribe celebrate their kill late into the night, Simon (who said before that the beast could be “us”) climbs up the mountain and comes face to face with the beast, without fear. He discovers that “the beast” is a dead paratrooper hanging from a tree. This is why he appears to move. And his parachute is swaying in the breeze. This is what Sam and Eric saw. Simon descends the mountain in the dark. Jack’s tribe is celebrating wildly, chanting “kill the beast, cut his throat, spill his blood.” They see something move in the brush. Someone says, “It’s the beast,” and the boys kill it. Of course, it is Simon.

Plate 2.3 Jack transformed from head choir boy into tribal leader.
Courtesy of Lord of the Flies co. Supplied by The British Film Institute.



Simon must die because he is the one who has the knowledge that there is no beast, and without a beast, it would be harder for Jack to make his claim to leadership against Ralph. For survival seems extremely urgent when there is a threat. Ralph is no threat. Piggy is no threat. The few little boys they look after are no threat. But the beast is a “real” threat. The beast is what is necessary to make a threat to survival seem real. And even killing Simon, who Jack claims was the beast in disguise, is not enough to kill the beast. Jack makes this clear as his tribe prepares for another hunt. Jack: Tomorrow I’ll hunt again. Then we’ll leave another head for the beast. Some of you will stay and defend the gate. The beast may try to come in. Remember how he crawled. He came disguised. The beast may try and come, even though we gave him the head of our kill. So watch, and be careful. Boy: But didn’t we . . . Didn’t we . . . Jack: No, how could we kill it? Another boy: He told us. The beast was disguised. The beast – or the fear it represents – can never be killed because it is a necessary fear. It is necessary for Waltz’s anarchy myth to function.

The function of fear in Waltz’s anarchy myth
Lord of the Flies not only illustrates the seeming truth of Waltz’s anarchy myth – “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war” – but it also shows us what makes Waltz’s myth function. As the film illustrates, anarchy alone is insufficient to cause or even allow for conflict. Anarchy requires fear to differentiate the behavior of those acting within it from their behavior within hierarchy. The absence of adults symbolizes the move from hierarchy to anarchy in the film. But hierarchy persists in the absence of adults until fear is introduced. Without fear, there is nothing in the film or in Waltz’s myth that suggests that anarchy would be conflictual rather than cooperative. As the film illustrates, fear can be found in any of Waltz’s three images. The way Golding’s novel is often read is as a testimony to the evilness of human nature that comes out in extreme situations. Man is by nature evil. The rules are all we’ve got. We had better cling to the rules to avoid behaving like beasts in a state of nature. This is one way to interpret Simon’s declaration that the beast may only be us. One can make the case that Jack, especially, is lured to some initial savage state of man. It is because of his increasing irrationality and how seductively he presents this irrationality as rational on the island that is the immediate cause of conflict among the boys. Read in this way, fear is a first-image problem. But, of course, Golding’s story is an analogy for what is happening among sovereign nation-states during World War II. States, too, are behaving badly. Germany is taking over Europe and bombing the UK. Because there is no world government to mediate the Allied/Axis dispute, World War II occurs. Jack’s tribe can be read as a bad organization that spreads conflict rather than adhering to the initially agreed on goal of rescue through cooperative fire building. Because there is no adult to prevent disputes between Jack’s wild survivalists and Ralph’s rational



rescue wannabes, Jack’s tribe and Ralph’s group come into conflict. This is a secondimage way of describing the location of fear. Either of these explanations follows from a reading of Waltz’s Man, the State, and War. In Theory of International Politics, Waltz no longer relies on his first and second images to supplement war. He suggests that anarchy itself is the location of fear. The structure of anarchy means states must compete for power in order to survive in this self-help system. The security dilemma is an attribute of international anarchy, according to Waltz. Because security questions can never be finally resolved in a situation of structural anarchy, competition is unavoidable and conflict is likely. So, on this third-image reading of Lord of the Flies, the boys end up in deadly conflict with one another because fear is located in the insecurity of international anarchy itself. While each of these locations of fear at first seems to make a lot of sense, none of them can be persuasively upheld when we remember that prior to the introduction of the beast – the representation in the film of fear – the boys got on well (see Box 2.2). They did not at all seem like boys behaving badly because they were evil by nature, so the film fails to make the case for fear being located in the first image. Nor do they organize themselves badly into competitive and increasingly conflictual groups before they believe in the beast and vote it into existence. So a second-image explanation of fear is also discredited. It is only after most of the boys embrace the fear of the beast that conflict occurs within anarchy. Anarchy itself, then, is never the location of fear. Anarchy does not create the fear that Waltz theorizes in Theory of International Politics. Rather, fear creates the effects that Waltz attributes to anarchy – prioritizing survival, self-help over cooperation, and either conflict or competitive balancing. According to the film, then, the source of fear is not internal to any of the three images – individuals, internal social and political organizations, or anarchy. So where is fear located? To think about this question, let’s reexamine Simon’s declaration that the beast may only be one of us. Simon is the one boy who knows the “truth” about the beast – that there is no beast, that the beast is but a dead paratrooper, and that the boys have nothing to fear except (as the old saying goes) fear itself. Simon recognizes that the boys are afraid, and he recognizes that the boys are probably just scaring one another. The boys in various ways invent the beast – by land, then by sea, and then by air – as something to fear. But the fear isn’t a fear of human nature or bad social and political organizations or international anarchy. The fear is the fear of fear itself. By inventing this fear among themselves and then deploying it against themselves, the boys bring about all the effects of international anarchy that Waltz predicts in his two books. But, crucially, before the boys embrace and deploy this fear, none of Waltz’s predictions about international anarchy are actualized. Fear, then, is the final supplement to Waltz’s theory. It is not a first-image problem. It is not a second-image problem. And, it is not (as so many IR theorists have been persuaded to believe) a third-image problem systematically built into the structure of international anarchy. Fear is what is always missing from Waltz’s theory. But without adding fear, none of the competitive and potentially conflictual things he predicts will occur in a system of structural anarchy. Put differently, the ways in which Waltz deploys the myth “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war”


REALISM Table 2.6 The locations of fear in Lord of the Flies Location First image Description Human nature Illustration Jack and his followers’ increasing savagery Jack’s bad tribe against Ralph’s good tribe Competitive, self-help system in which boys create security dilemma on island The beast

Second image

International organization of states and societies International anarchy

Third image

None of Waltz’s images

Irrationally generated by the boys themselves and externalized

make no sense without his theories being supplemented by fear, a fear that is not a necessary attribute of any of his three images (see Table 2.6). Since this is the case, then it is important to look at how fear is characterized by Waltz. Waltz characterizes fear as something that always divides people, states, societies, and worlds. Even if fear leads to balancing among states (something that could not be illustrated in the film because Ralph’s group never had the power to compete with Jack’s group), this balancing is never a cooperative endeavor. It is always the result of fear. But there is absolutely nothing in either of Waltz’s books that ever makes the case for theorizing fear in this way. Fear simply is assumed to be divisive. What if fear functioned differently? What if fear united people for good rather than divided them for evil (or even benign) competition? International anarchy would not look the same. Anarchy would means something very different in IR theory. Anarchy, however much it was supplemented by fear, would not be a permissive cause of war because war would not be the likely outcome of a fear that united people around a good cause. It is this fear functioning for cooperative ends that we find in the (neo)idealist myth about international anarchy. This is the myth we will explore in Chapter 3.

Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 (Neo)realism
Waltz’s Theory of International Politics is widely regarded as the book that laid the theoretical foundation for the IR tradition of (neo)realism. There is an abundance of commentary on this subject. Some classic statements include Robert O. Keohane’s 1986 edited volume Neorealism and its Critics. This book reproduces several chapter from Theory of International Politics and includes a wide array of criticisms of Waltz’s



work, from institutionalist to critical theory to postmodern perspectives. More recently, Barry Buzan, Charles Jones, and Richard Little collaborated on a book that is not so much a critique of Waltz’s work as a critical extension of it. The authors make the case for a selective Waltzian (neo)realism, one that both drops some of Waltz’s ideas and supplements them with their own. What is missing from these traditional critiques of (neo)realism are any sustained gender analyses of Waltz’s work. Christine Sylvester’s book Feminist Theory and International Relations in a Postmodern Era and J. Ann Tickner’s chapter in Gender and International Relations correct this oversight.

Suggested reading
Barry Buzan, Charles Jones, and Richard Little (1993) The Logic of Anarchy: Neorealism to Structural Realism. New York: Columbia University Press. Robert O. Keohane (ed.) (1986) Neorealism and its Critics. New York: Columbia University Press. Christine Sylvester (1994) Feminist Theory and International Relations in a Postmodern Era. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, especially Chapter 3. J. Ann Tickner (1992) Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspectives on Achieving Global Security. New York: Columbia University Press, especially Chapter 2.

Topic 2 The uses of fear in IR theory
Richard Ashley’s 1989 engagement with Waltzian (neo)realism argues not only that “statecraft is mancraft” but that fear is a vital supplement to Waltz’s theory of international anarchy. Many of the themes initially expressed by Ashley are picked up on and applied more generally by David Campbell in his work on international security.

Suggested reading
Richard K. Ashley (1989) “Living on Borderlines: Man, Poststructuralism, and War,” in James Der Derian and Michael Shapiro (eds) International/Intertextual Relations: Postmodern Readings of World Politics. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, pp. 259–321. David Campbell (1999) Writing Security, revised edition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Note on the US film of Lord of the Flies
If you can’t find the British version of Lord of the Flies, it is best to read William Golding’s novel (which is worth reading anyway) rather than to turn to the 1994 US



version of the film directed by Harry Hook. The US version makes many critical deviations from Golding’s book that change the motivations for the boys’ actions on the island, and (most importantly for our purposes) that change the function of fear. First, the boys in the American version are all from the same American military academy. They already know one another, they have a pre-established social hierarchy and rigid military hierarchy, and they bring values like the importance of conflict and survival to the island rather than develop them on the island because of their changed circumstances. Second, a wounded adult (Captain Benson) survives the plane crash. His presence and his possible recovery mean that hierarchy may be guaranteed by an adult. This doesn’t happen because (bizarrely) Captain Benson rushes off in the middle of the night in a feverish state to take refuge in a cave. Some of the boys think he has died. But, as Simon discovers, it is Captain Benson who is “the monster.” Finally and most importantly, fear is not the motivation for the breakdown of the boys’ hierarchy and their entering into a savage anarchy. Jack leaves the group when Ralph criticizes him for letting the fire burn out. This is well before there is widespread fear of “the monster.”




Is there an international society?

What does the myth say? Independence Day Fear and leadership in Independence Day Suggestions for further thinking Media note Classroom activity

40 46 52 56 57 57



If the myth “anarchy is the permissive cause of war” suggests that conflict is an inevitable aspect of international affairs so long as anarchy prevails, then the myth “there is an international society” offers some hope that the conflictual aspects of international anarchy – and possibly international anarchy itself – can be overcome. According to this myth, transforming international politics from conflictual to cooperative does not necessitate moving from anarchy to hierarchy – from an international system without an orderer to an international system with an orderer. Instead, all it requires is mediating or replacing anarchy with community. In other words, world government may not be the only way out of anarchy. International community – a formal or informal collective and cooperative set of social relationships among sovereign nation-states – may be an alternative to world government and an alternative to international anarchy. This way of thinking about international community is most commonly associated with the IR tradition of idealism (a subset of the larger tradition of liberalism). Idealists believe that there is a basic goodness to people that can be corrupted by bad forms of organization. These bad types of organizations are found at the level of the state and society. It is these bad forms of organizations that divide people and lead to misunderstandings among them (see Table 3.1). If people could only be organized in ways that allow them to really, truly, and honestly communicate with one another, then they could see what they have in common and unite around common standards of goodness, truth, beauty, and justice. Or (somewhat less optimistically) they could at least put into place rules and laws to temper conflict and facilitate cooperation. Either way, good organizations can lead to good changes in people, all of whom are basically good – have a good moral core – even if they occasionally behave badly. And good forms of organization are possible not only domestically but internationally because even international social relations are marked much more by harmony (when there is pure communication) than by conflict. Idealism is arguably the founding tradition of international relations theory (Walker, 1993). Even so, its influence over IR scholars and practitioners has waned over the years. Idealism is seen to have failed to “make the world safe for democracy” as President Woodrow Wilson claimed it could during World War I, even when its principles were institutionalized into international organizations like the League of Nations and later the United Nations. Realism won most of the important intellectual debates during World War II and the Cold War. And when its usefulness was threatening to fade away, Kenneth Waltz reinvented it as (neo)realism in his Theory of International Politics, thereby providing IR theorists with a seemingly timeless account of the behavior of actors in a situation of structural anarchy (see Chapter 2).
Table 3.1 Idealism Actors Humans States and societies Nature of actors All morally good Good – if organized through pure communication Bad – if organized through impure communication



But as the Cold War thawed during the later half of the 1980s and the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Waltz’s timeless truths about competition, conflict, and balancing in a system of structural anarchy no longer rang true. The East–West rivalry was over, arms control agreements seemed to proliferate faster than armaments, democracy spread internationally, and human rights and humanitarian intervention were given practical and not just rhetorical emphasis by many sovereign nation-states. These were not outcomes Waltz or any other realist or (neo)realist anarchy theorist would have predicted. Sure, if international anarchy had been replaced by international hierarchy – by a world government – then maybe these cooperative practices could be accounted for. But international anarchy as realists and (neo)realists defined it persisted in the aftermath of the Cold War, and neither realist nor (neo)realist scholars could satisfactorily explain the cooperative behavior they observed, especially in the realm of international security. But while realist and (neo)realist scholars were stunned by some post-Cold War developments, (neo)idealist, and (more broadly) neoliberal scholars were not. The basic international harmony of social and/or economic relations seemed to them to explain why we were suddenly experiencing a more cooperative international environment. One (neo)idealist scholar in particular – Charles Kegley – made the argument that the post-Cold War world looked very much like the world Woodrow Wilson envisioned decades before. Kegley first made this argument in his 1993 article “The Neoidealist Moment in International Studies? Realist Myths and the New International Realities.” He later clarified and crystallized it in his essay “The Neoliberal Challenge to Realist Theories of World Politics: An Introduction” (1995). In this chapter I will explore how in both essays Kegley utilizes the myth “there is an international society” by “re-envisioning” Woodrow Wilson’s classical idealist outlook for the post-Cold War era (Debrix, 1999). The myth that “there is an international society” presumably functions through a domestic analogy – by drawing a parallel between what happens within states in their domestic relations to what happens among states in their international relations. For Kegley, this means that social relations and proper societies do not stop at the borders of sovereign nation-states. If we can have social spaces within states, there is nothing preventing us from also have social spaces among states. I will elaborate on Kegley’s use of the myth “there is an international society” by summarizing what his essays say, relating that to the myth “there is an international society,” and reconsidering the myth function of Kegley’s arguments about post-Cold War international politics through the film Independence Day. Set in a post-Cold War world, Independence Day comically and upliftingly tells the story of an alien invasion of the earth – an invasion which has the effect of uniting humanity against the common enemy of the alien invaders. It demonstrates that, even in the absence of an orderer – in an anarchical world – states can set aside their differences, unite for the greater good, and overcome international anarchy. As such, it illustrates many of the basic tenets of (neo)idealism that Kegley claims epitomize this post-Cold War world. Yet in telling this story, the film raises the question “Is there anything ‘international’ about Kegley’s ‘international society’ or is it just an extension of one state’s domestic society?” If the answer is it is just an extension of one state’s domestic society, then Kegley’s supposed domestic analogy does not



draw a parallel between a domestic and an international space. Rather than a domestic analogy, it is simply a domestication of international space. In other words, Independence Day suggests that the supposed post-Cold War “international society” may just be an enlarged domestic society. And if that is the case, then there is not necessarily an international society because there is nothing collective or collaborative about one state domesticating international space.

What does the myth say?
The most striking thing about Kegley’s two essays is that they never make an argument for the myth “there is an international society.” International society is simply assumed to exist. Its existence needs no defending. Arguments in defence of an international society simply go without saying. But if Kegley makes no argument for an international society and only mentions international society in passing in his essays, what make his texts appropriate for illustrating this myth? The answer is that without assuming that an international society exists, the rest of Kegley’s arguments make no sense. In other words, the existence of an international society is vital to Kegley’s explanation of cooperation in a post-Cold War world. Kegley’s essays tell the story of post-Cold War cooperation not by focusing on the myth “there is an international society” but by focusing on the duelling traditions of realism and idealism. He acknowledges that during the Cold War, realist principles seemed to make sense. They explained things like “the lust for power, appetite for imperial expansion, struggle for hegemony, a superpower arms race, and obsession with national security” that marked “the conflict-ridden fifty-year system between 1939 and 1989” (Kegley, 1993: 133, 1995: 6). But then the Cold War ended. It was “the end of the world as we know it.” This led Kegley to wonder “whether it is time to revise, reconstruct, or, more boldly, reject orthodox realism” (Kegley, 1995: 3, 1993: 134). His answer is yes, for two reasons. One is that orthodox realism is at best incomplete because it cannot satisfactorily explain post-Cold War cooperation among states (Kegley, 1993: 134–5, 1995: 5–9; see Table 3.2). The other reason is that there is an existing tradition of
Table 3.2 What can realism explain and what can’t realism explain? Realism can explain Cold War conflictual activities among sovereign nation-states, e.g.: “lust for power” “appetite for imperial expansion” “struggle for hegemony” “superpower arms race” “obsession with national security”
Source: Kegley, 1993, 1995

Realism cannot explain Post-Cold War realities of cooperation among sovereign nation-states, e.g.: “march of democracy” “increase in liberal free trade agreements” “renewed role of the United Nations” “proliferation of arms control agreements” “international humanitarianism”



international theory that better explains this cooperation, and this is an idealism or liberalism that has its roots in the ideas of Woodrow Wilson. Kegley argues the Idealist worldview can be summed up in the following core principles: 1. Human nature is essentially “good” or altruistic, and people are therefore capable of mutual aid and collaboration. 2. The fundamental human concern for the welfare of others makes progress possible (that is, the Enlightenment’s faith in the possibility of improving civilization is reaffirmed). 3. Bad human behavior is the product not of evil people but of evil institutions and structural arrangements that motivate people to act selfishly and to harm others – including making war. 4. War is not inevitable and its frequency can be reduced by eradicating the anarchical conditions that encourage it. 5. War and injustice are international problems that require collective or multilateral rather than national efforts to eliminate them. 6. International society must reorganize itself institutionally to eliminate the anarchy that makes problems such as war likely. (Kegley, 1995: 4) Read together, these six principles illustrate a movement in idealist theorizing from the individual level to the state level to the international level. They begin by focusing on theories of human nature, then try to account for human behavior not because of human nature but because of their institutional and structural arrangements (how they are organized), finally concluding that international society can be rearranged so that bad behavior (this time of states as well as of individuals) can be lessened if not eliminated. These are the very same three levels of analysis that Waltz identified in his book Man, the State, and War. But Waltz and someone like Kegley have very different ways of thinking about these three images. Most importantly for our purposes is how they think about the third image, the international level. For Waltz, the international level is where anarchy is located. And because Waltz argues that anarchy is the permissive cause of war, then the international level is where war is located. In contrast, for Kegley, the international level is not where war is located. Violence and war are never finally located in any of the three images for Kegley. This is because war and conflict – bad behavior – can be eliminated if only political and social arrangements are better organized. In the place of anarchy at the international level, Kegley is keen to substitute “international society.” If organized properly, international society can “eliminate the anarchy that makes problems such as war possible” (Kegley, 1995: 4). (See Table 3.3.) This is precisely what Kegley implies is occurring in a post-Cold War era. He cites “the march of democracy” within states around the globe, increases in liberal free trade arrangements that assume trust and the benefit of all, strengthening of international law, the renewed role of international institutions like the United Nations to undertake collective security initiatives, the proliferation of arms control agreements, and international humanitarian responses to state human rights


IDEALISM Table 3.3 How do Waltz and Kegley differently characterize international politics? Waltz International politics is anarchical, and anarchy is the permissive cause of war. Therefore, war and conflict are ultimately located at the international level and cannot be eliminated because anarchy cannot be eliminated Kegley International politics can be reorganized around international society rather than international anarchy, potentially eliminating problems like war and conflict without replacing international anarchy with international hierarchy (world government)

violations as evidence of the fulfillment of Wilson’s specific idealist predictions about what international politics would look like (Kegley, 1993: 135–8, 1995: 10–14). And, so, to the six core principles that Woodrow Wilson embraced, Kegley offers a seventh, post-Cold War (neo)idealist principle: This goal [of reorganizing international society so that it can eliminate the anarchy that makes problems such as war likely] is realistic because history suggests that global change and cooperation are not only possible but empirically pervasive. (Kegley, 1995: 4; my brackets) These post-Cold War developments are vitally important to Kegley. They seem to empirically demonstrate that (neo)idealism is a theory that describes things as they really are in the post-Cold War era, something idealism failed to do for its historical era. Even more importantly, they demonstrate that “the motives that animate the goals of state are not immutable. They can change” (Kegley, 1993: 135–7, 1995: 11; italics in the original). Conflict is not an inevitability in international life. Kegley’s point is not to dispute that the Cold War was a era marked by conflict and the disposition of the Eastern and Western blocs to go to war with one another. That happened. He accepts that. But, he argues, now that the Cold War is over, states are behaving cooperatively. That means they have changed from being conflictual toward one another to being cooperative toward one another. And, given the history of superpower conflict during the Cold War, this change is a very big deal. Why has the behavior of sovereign nation-states in a post-Cold War era become so cooperative? Before answering this question, let’s just remind ourselves that the answer is not because the international system changed from being anarchical to being hierarchical. The answer is not that during the Cold War there was no world government and in the post-Cold War era there is a world government. There is still no world government. Waltz believed that cooperation around security issues could occur if anarchy gave way to hierarchy. How does Kegley explain post-Cold War cooperation in the absence of hierarchy – in the absences of an orderer? Part of Kegley’s answer is that these changes from conflictual to cooperative behavior among states follow from a change in the international organization of



states. The Cold War bipolar world system of two opposed blocs locked into a deadly battle with one another has given way to a new form of international organization, and this begins to explain why cooperation is occurring. It was the bad organization of international politics during the Cold War that kept idealist (and now (neo)idealist) principles of cooperation from being realized. On this point, Kegley is not claiming that the end of the Cold War will mark the end of conflict altogether. He acknowledges, for example, that not all of Wilson’s ideas make sense for the post Cold War era. For example, Wilson did not think through all the implications and uses to which self-determination (letting people decide for themselves how and by whom they would be governed) might be put, and this has led to a lot of bloodshed within and among states in a post-Cold War era (Kegley, 1993: 137). But what it does mean is that – while it will never be a perfect state of affairs – with the end of the Cold War, states are now engaged in restoring “a place for morality in foreign policy” (Kegley, 1993: 138). They are pursuing collective, cooperative interests that all states have always had in common – like peace, justice, and a better way of life. These are interests about welfare within and among states rather than warfare among states. And these moral goals that lead to a better way of life for people and states are as much in states’ individualistic national interests as they are in their collective interests (Kegley, 1993: 142). Because the world has been reorganized, they are realizable once again. But for idealism and (neo)idealism, moral progress among sovereign nationstates does not result merely from the reorganizing of relations among sovereign nation-states. If the world changed from a bipolar system to a differently organized system, this in itself would not necessarily account for increased cooperation. For even realists and (neo)realists like Waltz acknowledge these changes within anarchy. Something else is at work in Kegley’s argument, as it was in Wilson’s, that makes cooperation possible. That “something else” is an international society. For a (neo)idealist like Kegley, international society is the space in which moral progress occurs. But where does this international society come from? For any brand of idealist – including Kegley – it comes from drawing a domestic analogy. If there is society within states, then there can be (and in a post-Cold War world there is) society among states. To understand the importance of this domestic analogy to the myth “there is an international society,” let’s explore two aspects of it. First, how does a domestic society serve as a space in which moral progress can occur? Second, how is this society “transferred” from the domestic or state level to the international level? For a (neo)idealist, the sovereign nation-state is not just a political space. It is also a social space. Indeed, government is the formal institutional expression of social relations within a state. If the state is organized in a good way, then it can organize its domestic social relations so that moral progress can occur within it. What is a good form of state organization for a (neo)idealist, and how can this good form of state organization enable moral progress in its domestic society? For a (neo)idealist, the best form of governmental organization is democracy. Democracy is the best form of organization because it is the least restrictive on its people. It is the least repressive. It is the form of governance that most encourages freedom of expression among its people. Democracy is government by the people. So the voice of any democratic sovereign nation-state is really the


Good government

Good people

Figure 3.1 Democratically organized state and society

collective voice of its people. This is important because, as all idealists believe, people are basically good. If they are free to express their goodness within their state, then this goodness moves up from the individual level (good people) to the state level (good state). Furthermore, good people within a democratic state have a good influence on others within that state – those citizens who are behaving badly. Moral progress occurs within democratic sovereign nation-states, then, because this good form of political and social organization means that citizens behaving well “enlighten” citizens behaving badly. Selfishness diminishes, as does the motivation to do harm to one’s fellow citizens, so long as people are free to express their internal goodness. And this purity of communication is something that the democratic state ensures (Figure 3.1). Of course, not all sovereign nation-states are democratic. Some of them are organized autocratically – with state authority flowing from unenlightened governmental elites onto its repressed people. (Neo)idealists believe that it is these sorts of autocratic governments that cause conflict in international politics. They are the ones that don’t work for the collective good because they don’t really know what the collective good is, as they are unenlightened by their good people. They tell their citizens what to do rather than listening to them and representing their moral interests (Figure 3.2). If only these autocratic sovereign nation-states could
Bad government

Good people

Figure 3.2 Autocratically organized state and society



be reorganized internally to become democratic, then the good people within them could enlighten their wayward leaders. This is why Woodrow Wilson wanted to “make the world safe for democracy.” This answers the question “how does a domestic society serve as a space in which moral progress can occur?” What about the second question – “how is this society ‘transferred’ from the domestic or state level to the international level?” (Neo)idealists offer two answers to this second question. The classic answer – Wilson’s answer – is that by “making the world safe for democracy,” democratic states will have an influence on autocratic states (either through benevolent enlightenment or though fighting just wars against bad governments to liberate their good people), transforming them into democratic states, and we will end up with an international society of democratic states. If democracy is a form of governance that expresses the will of the people and if all states are democratic, then the individual “domestic societies” within states become one big collective “international society” among states (Figure 3.3). Kegley accepts this answer and adds to it. He is excited about the international “march of democracy” in a post-Cold War era in part because democracies almost never wage war against each other (Kegley, 1995: 10). All this proves Wilson’s point that democratic states develop international social relationships among themselves that are cooperative rather than conflictual. In addition to this, though, Kegley stresses the influence of cross-border communication in connecting people within domestic spaces and lessening the separations among peoples. As Kegley puts it, “People matter . . . public sentiment is captured instantaneously in our age of global communications knit together by cables, the airwaves, and the fax machine. The distinction between domestic and foreign affairs has broken down. . . . This also follows Wilson’s belief that lowering barriers between countries would be a barrier to warfare” (Kegley, 1995: 11). With all this communication among good people, domestic differences are giving way to common interests. Because the goodness of people is communicated,
International society







Figure 3.3 How does Wilson enact the “domestic analogy”?



International society







Figure 3.4 How does Kegley enact the “domestic analogy”?

warfare (which is an outgrowth of an inability to communicate the goodness of people) is on the decline. In this international society – a society composed of states but also primarily of the people within states – moral progress is occurring, as people de-emphasize warfare and reemphasize welfare (Figure 3.4). This is how Kegley transfers social relations that occur within states to social relations that occur among states. By analogy to domestic society, “there is an international society.” It is this international society that, for Kegley, explains cooperation in the post-Cold War era. And it is Kegley’s myth of post-Cold War international society that is explored in the film Independence Day.

Independence Day
The opening sequence of Independence Day sets the stage for an action/adventure story in which moral good triumphs over irredeemable evil. The camera’s first image is of the US flag flying on the moon. From the flag, the camera takes us to a plaque left by US astronauts inscribed with the words “We came in peace for all mankind.” The camera slowly zooms in on the word “peace.” Then the moon trembles. A shadow passes over it. We follow the shadow to the edge of the moon until a shot of the earth appears in center frame. Entering our frame from the top is an alien spacecraft. It is this spacecraft that is casting this long shadow over the moon. Cut to white. Cut to an exterior of the Research for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in New Mexico. Cut to interior shot. A young man is practicing his putting inside the listening station. Hi-tech equipment fills the room. The man hears a signal that we know and he suspects is being emitted by aliens. In the background, we hear REM singing “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” This action takes place on July 2. This opening sequence tells us a lot about the world of Independence Day and the struggles to come. The elements that the film will use to make sense of the world



– humans vs. aliens, peace vs. conflict, and purity of communication vs. corrupted communication – are all evident in this sequence. Independence Day is not only a comically styled remake of an outer-space B film, it is also the perfect script for telling Kegley’s (neo)idealist tale of international cooperation in a post-Cold War era. And, most importantly for our purposes, the film offers us clues – even in this opening sequence – as to how to functionally rethink the myth “there is an international society.” On the heels of this opening sequence, Independence Day introduces us to an ensemble cast and their various interlinking storylines. The film gives us not one hero, but at least four (all of whom happen to be male) and possibly many more (including some women). The four central heroes are President Bill Whitmore, David, Steve, and Russell. President Whitmore is a veteran fighter pilot from the Gulf War. He is young. He is liberal. And he is moral. His morality is testified to by his wife who reminds the president that he is a bad liar. “Stick to the truth,” she tells him. “That’s what you’re good at.” President Whitmore represents the incorruptibility of communication. He cannot tell a lie – or, really, he cannot tell a lie and get away with it. It is President Whitmore who will take the lead in organizing the world’s response to the alien invasion. We find our next hero, David, playing chess with his aging father in New York’s Central Park. David is a good son, and he was a good husband. Part of his story is that he has been divorced from the president’s assistant, Connie, for four years but he still honors his commitment to their marriage. A sign of this is he still wears his wedding ring. David works as a computer troubleshooter for a satellite television company. He is also a committed environmentalist who, for example, rides a bike rather than drives a car and makes sure all his colleagues recycle their rubbish. It is David who, in trying to restore uninterrupted service to his TV station’s customers, discovers the alien signal hidden in the US satellites. At first, he is comforted to find that the signal is reducing itself and will disappear in seven hours. But when he sees the alien spacecraft – now broken up into pieces assembled over the world’s major cities – he realizes that the signal he has found is an alien countdown to the destruction of humankind. He explains how the signal works in a conversation with his boss. David: It’s like chess. First you strategically position your pieces. Then when the timing’s right you strike. See. They’re positioning themselves all over the world using this one signal to synchronize their efforts. Then, in approximately 6 hours, the signal’s gonna disappear and the countdown’s gonna be over. Boss: And then what? David: Checkmate. David goes to Washington, DC so he can warn his ex-wife and the president. David is a morally good man who understands the technical workings of impure/alien communication. It becomes his task to disable this corrupted alien communication. He does so by planting a virus in the alien computer, thereby disabling the forcefields around their ships that have protected them from attack.



Our next hero Steve, a pilot in the US military who dreams of flying the spaceshuttle for NASA, flies himself and David in an alien craft into the belly of the alien mothership where David plants his virus and thereby disables the alien defensive shields. Steve is our man of courage and adventure who actively unites goodness of purpose (the president’s agenda) with technical know-how (David’s plan to plant the virus). While Steve (like President Whitmore) is our legitimate military hero, our final hero, Russell, is anything but legitimate. He is a drunken cropduster who fought in the “wrong war” – Vietnam. And he is a local laughing stock because he insists that ten years earlier he was abducted by aliens. But Russell redeems himself when, fighting in the alien counteroffensive, he flies his plane with an undetachable live bomb into the body of the alien ship, destroying it. Russell, then, was always a good man who spoke the truth. He was just misunderstood. (See Table 3.4.) As this plot and presentation of characters demonstrate, Independence Day makes sense of the world by closely following a (neo)idealist script. What is typical of this world is that it is inhabited by morally good humans who, when properly
Table 3.4 The heroes in Independence Day Hero US President Bill Whitmore What makes him heroic This president cannot tell a lie and therefore symbolizes the incorruptibility of communication. As such, he is able to conceive of a morally just plan to beat the aliens and to mobilize a moral society through pure communication He is a morally good man who understands the technical workings of impure/alien communication well enough to disable them. He does this by planting a virus in the alien computer A man of courage and adventure who actively unites goodness of purpose (the president’s agenda) with technical know-how (David’s plan to plant the virus) by flying an alien craft into the mothership Russell sacrifices himself for his children and the rest of humanity by carrying out a suicide mission that destroys an alien ship. He proves he is a good man who was always speaking the truth but who was just misunderstood

David, the computer troubleshooter for a satellite television company

Steve, the US military fighter pilot

Russell, the Vietnam veteran who is now a drunken cropduster and who claims to have been abducted by aliens years ago



Box 3.1 What is typical in the world of Independence Day?
• • • Good people do good deeds in good organizations Bad things follow from impaired communication Human beings are morally progressive

understood through good communication, are able to lead good moral, peaceful lives. The humans we are introduced to are all US citizens. Part of their ability to express their goodness, the film hints, is because they are organized in a moral way, in a democratic sovereign nation-state. So, like (neo)idealism, the film makes sense of the world by assuming that good people do good things in good organizations. This is also what is typical of the world (Box 3.1). But then, just as in the aftermath of the Cold War, the world as we know it ends. In the historical Cold War script, evil (represented in the US view by the communist threat) is “defeated.” But in this cinematic post-Cold War, postcommunist script of Independence Day, a new evil is introduced. This new evil is the aliens. The aliens are not initially treated as if they are evil. Because the moral goodness of human beings is assumed by (neo)idealism and by the characters in the film, it is not surprising that the film begins by extending this presumption of moral goodness to the aliens. Early on, the president addresses the nation, saying “The question of whether or not we are alone in the universe has been answered. Although it’s understandable that many of us feel a sense of hesitation or even fear, we must attempt to reserve judgment.” “To reserve judgment” here means to not assume the worst about the aliens but to assume the best about them until there is clear evidence to the contrary. Throughout, he resists the advice of the secretary of defense to attack the alien craft. Steve echoes this sentiment when he tells his girlfriend Jasmine, “I really don’t believe they [the aliens] flew over 90 billion light years to come down here and start a fight, to get rowdy.” These views are widespread throughout the government and among the public. Keeping in mind that firing guns into the air can be a sign of celebration in Los Angeles, a local newscaster tells his audience “Once again the LAPD is asking Los Angelinos not to fire their guns at the visitor spacecraft. You may inadvertently trigger an inner-stellar war.” And throughout the US at least, some groups of people gather to “party” with the aliens. Because the aliens are assumed to be good by nature, the president authorizes an attempt to communicate with them – to express to the aliens that the earthlings mean them no harm. Communication itself is believed to be pure. Indeed, it is the president, as we know, who symbolizes the incorruptibility of communication. Not knowing how to communicate with the aliens, the government sends “Welcome Wagon” – a military plane with enormous light panels – up to greet the alien ship. The aliens fire on and destroy “Welcome Wagon,” just as the president learns from David that the alien signal is a countdown to an alien attack. The president’s bad decision to send up Welcome Wagon comes from having incomplete information.



Communication was impaired, and bad things followed from that. The aliens proceed to destroy many major cities worldwide. The president and others (including David) flee on Air Force One. July 2 comes to an end. Even in the face of all this alien destruction of the earth, in the president’s mind lingers the hope that the aliens’ bad behavior is not attributable to their being evil creatures. Yes, the president orders a counterattack against the aliens on July 3, one that is justified even from a (neo)idealist point of view because it is defensive. Yet even when this counterattack with conventional weapons fails miserably, the president is still not persuaded by the secretary of defense to use nuclear weapons against the aliens. For while it is acceptable from a (neo)idealist perspective to defend one’s self in the face of aggression, it is not all right to attempt to annihilate a species that could be morally progressive. The president must know for sure if the aliens are morally good or bad. He gets his answer when Steve brings a live alien to Area 51, where the president and his entourage have assembled. An Area 51 scientist explains to the president that the aliens are very much like humans. Their bodies are frail like human bodies. But they lack vocal cords. They communicate through telepathy, through extra sensory perception. As a group of scientists are examining the live alien Steve has brought in, the alien “captures” one of them by first capturing his mind. He does this by looking into the scientist’s eyes. He then manipulates the scientist’s vocal cords to speak to the president and other onlookers. Alien: Release me. Release me. President: I know there is much we can learn from each another if we can negotiate a truce. We can find a way to co-exist. Can there be a peace between us? Alien: Peace. No peace. President: What is it you want us to do? Alien: Die. Die. Then the alien links up telepathically with the president. Military personnel shoot the alien, wounding it enough for it to release the tormented president. The president speaks again. President: I saw his thoughts. I saw what they’re planning to do. They’re like locusts. They’re moving from planet to planet, their whole civilization. After they’ve consumed every natural resource, they move on. And we’re next. A soldier shots and kills the alien. President: Nuke ’em. Let’s nuke the bastards. The president’s decision to “nuke the bastards” may seem to veer from the (neo)idealist script into a more realist or (neo)realist one. Conflict marks the relationship between the humans and the aliens. The aliens want to annihilate the humans, and now the president wants to annihilate the aliens. Can this ever be justified in a (neo)idealist world? The answer is yes because the aliens are beyond the moral boundary of goodness and cannot be morally recuperated. It would not have been (neo)idealist



Box 3.2 What is deviant in the world of Independence Day?
• • • Bad aliens do bad deeds not because they are badly organized but because their communication is impaired and because they are morally corrupt Alien communication is corrupted and corrupting Aliens are not morally progressive

for the president to just assume the aliens were bastards and to nuke them earlier, as the very realist secretary of defense advised him to do. But with all barriers to pure communication between the president and the alien removed through telepathy, the president knows for sure that the aliens are not morally progressive. They will not negotiate. They have done this before, to other species on other planets. The aliens are morally bad. They deserve to die. Defending the human species is a just cause. So is annihilating a morally unprogressive species. None of this contradicts the (neo)idealist principle that humans are morally good. For, as the president learns, there is nothing morally human about the aliens. And that is what matters to a (neo)idealist. The aliens, then, do not represent a departure from the (neo)idealist story. Rather, they represent what is deviant in a (neo)idealist world (Box 3.2). But the nuclear option fails. The US military is unable to defeat the aliens. It is at this point that a new strategy is devised. And, of course, it is now July 4. First, David’s idea to plant a virus in the alien computer – to corrupt corrupted communication – is embraced by the president. If successful, David’s plan will mean that the defensive shields around the alien ships will be dismantled for about 30 seconds. If a counteroffensive were launched during that time, it would have a fair chance of success. Second, the president decides to coordinate such a counteroffensive worldwide. When the secretary of defense protests against this plan, the president fires him. The secretary of defense represents not only realism but also distorted and secretive human communication. For example, he kept Area 51 a secret from the president well after the aliens arrived, although aliens really had landed three years ago, as rumors had long suggested. His dismissal removes another barrier to a (neo)idealist success. But there is a problem. How can a worldwide counterattack be coordinated? Earthly satellites are ineffective forms of communication because alien ships interfere with them. And, even if they could be used, since the aliens have already used them against the earthlings, any message sent by satellite would surely be intercepted. The US military ends up spreading the word of its counterattack using the purest, most basic, and most universal of all military languages – Morse code. Steve successfully flies the alien craft into the mothership. David successfully plants the virus in the mothership’s computer, thereby disabling the alien defences. Russell has his sacrificial and redemptive moment of glory when he penetrates the alien ship and blows it up. And, as word of this success if transmitted via Morse code around the world, earthly successes spread against the alien ships. The message of Independence Day, then, is that international cooperation for a just cause leads to peace. Pure communication among humankind enables states



to unite around such a just cause. And this just cause can be communicated, embraced, and implemented because “there is an international society.” Or is there?

Fear and leadership in Independence Day
On this first reading, Independence Day seems to support all the core principles of (neo)idealism, leading to a domestic analogy that draws a parallel between domestic society and international society. The film supports the idea that the defining characteristic of humans is that they are morally good. And, to illustrate this point, human kindness abounds in Independence Day. For example, when the aliens start destroying cities worldwide, there is no looting, extortion of services, or reckless living for the moment. Everyone seems to be focused on helping one another. As Jasmine roams the ruins of Los Angles, she rescues everyone she comes across, never asking for anything in return. Never mind that resources like food, water, and gasoline have become scarce commodities. The post-apocalyptic world of Independence Day is a space in which people are at their moral best and behave well. In typical (neo)idealist fashion, this moral goodness is not confined to personal relationships among people. Good, cooperative behavior is observed at all levels of social interaction – the personal, the state, and the international. And, from a (neo)idealist standpoint, it is no surprise that the film’s action begins to unfold in a democratic space – in the sovereign nation-state of the USA. The implication here is that all this moral behavior on the part of US citizens is able to be expressed because these citizens have lived in a democratically organized state and society. Would this post-Cold War plot have been different if the action unfolded in the former Yugoslavia? We can only imagine that it would be. So much of the cooperative action we see in the film is attributable to good people organized into good states and good societies. It is not a stretch, then, in either the film’s script or the script of (neo)idealism to invoke the domestic analogy. Because there are moral people organized into good (democratic) states and societies, then there can be an international society. For Woodrow Wilson, all that is required for this hope and belief to be realized is for the world to be made safe for democracy – for all sovereign nation-states to be transformed into democratic sovereign nation-states. This isn’t the plot of Independence Day. But Kegley’s way of moving from domestic society to international society is not only in the plot. It is the key to the human victory over the evil aliens. Kegley’s move is to argue that domestic society becomes “internationalized” though increased cross-border communications, which are assumed to be good and pure. And what does Independence Day give us but the purest form of cross-border communication available to militaries around the world – Morse code. Morse code unites the sovereign nation-states around the world into one just military mission against the evil aliens. The world is now safe from the aliens. “There is an international society.’ Importantly, all this cooperation in the post-Cold War era happens in the scripts of Independence Day and (neo)idealism not because the post-Cold War world has been transformed from anarchy to hierarchy – from the absence of an orderer to a



world government. International cooperation is the outcome of the coordination of moral efforts by an international society. It is international society that mediates international anarchy in a (neo)idealist reading of Independence Day. It is international society that even promises to take us out of and keep us out of anarchy altogether. Independence Day supports many of these (neo)idealist core ideals and moves, but it would be a mistake to conclude that it supports all of them. In particular, it would be wrong to conclude that the film supports the myth “there is an international society.” For in addition to rehearsing many aspects of the (neo)idealist story, the film tells us what makes the myth “there is an international society” function. It does so by adding two vital elements to the (neo)idealist plot – fear and US leadership. Fear seems to play a starring role in both of our anarchy myths so far. In the myth “anarchy is the permissive cause of war,” fear functions to divide actors in a situation of structural anarchy. Fear leads to conflict. Fear is what makes that myth function. Fear helps the myth “there is an international society” function as well, but to different effect. In this alternative anarchy myth, fear functions to unite people. It is the fear of the aliens that makes humans recognize what they have in common and to draw on this good moral core to act humanely toward one another. Even if we accept the film’s (neo)idealist proposition that fear brings out the best in people, we have to wonder what people – even democratically organized people – are like without fear. For example, what were all these good US citizens doing prior to the alien invasion? Because the film is set in the USA in the present, most of us can judge for ourselves (by looking around US society or by thinking about its depictions in the worldwide media) if the good moral core of these characters might have been expressed prior to the alien invasion – the fear – that brought out the best in them. In my mind a pre-alien invasion USA is not full of such widespread benevolent behavior, but of acts of racial prejudice, selfish economic advancement, militia bombings, and school shootings. Without the fear that unites people around the necessary goal of human survival, maybe social interactions are not quite as cooperative as the film suggests they are in the face of fear. And, of course, this raises the important questions: Now that the aliens have been defeated and the fear is gone, will there be an international society? Will people remain “united”? These questions raise serious challenges to a (neo)idealist reading of Independence Day. While the issue of fear makes us wonder if an international society will last in the aftermath of the defeat of the alien threat, the issue of US leadership makes us wonder if there was ever an international society at all. Think about it. Is there anything truly “international” about the “international society” we see in Independence Day? From the opening shot of the US flag waving on the moon until the end of the film in which the lightshow of alien spacecrafts falling from the sky becomes celebratory fireworks for the Fourth of July, everything in this film is about how US leadership saves humanity from the aliens. It isn’t that the world has united around one cause and collectively decides what to do. Rather, it is the US president who makes all the key decisions for the entire planet! And, according to the script of Independence Day, this is precisely what the world is wanting and waiting for, as is made clear in an exchange between two British soldiers when they receive the Morse code message from the US military.



First British Soldier: It’s from the Americans. They want to organize a counteroffensive. Second British Soldier: It’s about bloody time. This isn’t a dialogue about equal partners in an international community entering into mutually cooperative relationships. It is a dialogue that suggests a hierarchical relationship between the US leader and the British follower. In Independence Day, “international society” is never more than a global extension of US domestic society. This could not have been made more clear than it was in the president’s speech to US pilots prior to their successful counteroffensive. President: In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. Mankind . . . that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interest. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the fourth of July. And you will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyrrany, oppression, or persecution but from annihilation. We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist. And should we win the day, the fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice, “We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive. Today, we celebrate our Independence Day.” In this speech, the president declares that the USA is part of a wider human community – mankind. Mankind must no longer be a divided community. It must be what it really is – an international community. It must speak with “one voice” and fight as one unit if it is going to defeat the aliens. And this is what the film suggests occurs. But there are a couple of troubling turns in the film that make us wonder if what the president “says” is the same thing as what his speech and the film more generally “do.” One of these troubling turns, as I’ve already mentioned, is that it is the US president who makes all the decisions for “mankind.” It is the US government that takes action. It is the US military that unites the state militaries of the world through the pure communication of Morse code. It is always the US government that is acting on behalf of mankind – on behalf of the community of humans. This may all be expected. If the USA is indeed the most powerful state on earth, then it makes sense that it would have the necessary influence to coordinate global militaries. It would make sense that it would take the lead. The problem is, however, in taking the lead the USA confuses its leadership and the extension of its domestic influence internationally with an international society. The president’s speech, for example, suggests that the US mission is a mission for all of mankind. This is the same move we found in the opening sequence – with the US flag flying on the moon and the plaque left there by the US astronauts. It reads, “We came in peace for all mankind.” It is an old habit for the USA to imagine (or at least to say) that its acts are acts on behalf of the whole of humanity. The USA acting on behalf of the whole of humanity wouldn’t be inconsistent with (neo)idealism if this US leadership was the first step toward an end to all




Other states

Figure 3.5 How US leadership is extended in Independence Day

domestic differences and toward a truly international society. But that isn’t how things work out in Independence Day. For instead of erasing all domestic boundaries, one domestic boundary remains intact in the film. It is that of the USA. Let’s return to the president’s speech. He declares, “And should we win the day, the fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice, ‘We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive. Today, we celebrate our Independence Day’.” What the president is doing here is extending what is uniquely US to the whole world. That doesn’t mean the USA ceases to exist as a distinct political and social space. It means instead that US values, ideals – even holidays – are extended internationally (Figure 3.5). In Independence Day, there is no international society. There appears to be an international society because US domestic society is extended globally. But this extension of US leadership and US society does not meet the (neo)idealist terms of what an international society is – a formal or informal collective and cooperative set of social relationships among sovereign nation-states. Collective means more than one state must make the decisions. Cooperative means no one state is the leader with all the other states being the followers. Independence Day encourages us to mistake its combinations of fear and US leadership for an international society that mediates (if not overcomes) international anarchy and ensures moral cooperation. But the world of Independence Day is not the world of an international society. It is a world in which the USA is the leader, the worldwide hegemon. The USA is the orderer of international life. Anarchy is not replaced by international community. In this film, anarchy is mediated or replaced by hierarchy – by the USA as the orderer of international life, even though all the rhetoric that accompanies the action is (neo)idealist. Might the same series of moves be found in Kegley’s (neo)idealism? Kegley attributes post-Cold War cooperation to a reorganized international society – one in which increased cross-border communication has lead to commonly shared and expressed moral values resulting in more cooperative, moral international behavior among states. But for Kegley’s explanation of post-Cold War international cooperation to ring true, it must remain silent on the issues of the unifying effects of fear and, more importantly, on the role of US leadership. It must not acknowledge that the post-Cold War world may be less “anarchical” in the ways that someone like Waltz would think about it not because “there is an international society” but because there is global US leadership. If so, Kegley’s (neo)idealism does not perform a domestic analogy between a domestic society and an international



society. It confuses the extension of one state’s domestic society with an international society. Yet the evidence Kegley presents for a better organized intentional society in a post-Cold War world is the very same evidence others would offer to prove that the USA is the undisputed post-Cold War global leader. By leaving US leadership so woefully neglected, we are left to wonder if “there is an international society” that leads to cooperation in the post-Cold War anarchical world and maybe even replaces this anarchy or if, alternatively, post-Cold War cooperation results from the unopposed global spread of US influence. Put differently, might US post-Cold War leadership be so strong that Kegley mistakes it for an international society? If this is the case, Kegley comes by this confusion/exclusion honestly. It is the same one Woodrow Wilson made in the aftermath of World War I – another postconflict era in which the USA emerged as a world leader (if not the world leader). And maybe that is what explains why Wilson’s idealist program seemed to fail and Kegley’s (neo)idealist program (at least in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War) seems to succeed. Overall, though, it is only by leaving unaddressed the presumably unifying function of fear and the question of US global leadership in a post-Cold War era that Kegley’s myth “there is an international society” (and the international effects it promises) appears to be true.

Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 Cooperation under anarchy
The idealist and (neo)idealist stories of how international society mediates or even supercedes the effects of international anarchy are not the only IR stories about cooperation in relation to international anarchy. Other stories about the relationships between anarchy and cooperation abound. They are found in the so-called “English School” tradition, in (neo)realism, and in neoliberal institutionalism. For example, Hedley Bull’s The Anarchical Society (1987) contributes to the anarchy/cooperation debate from the perspective of the misnamed English School (misnamed because its key figures were Welsh and Australian in addition to English and because the cornerstone of this tradition is arguably the writings of the Dutch legalist Hugo Grotius). Robert Keohane’s After Hegemony is an important contribution from the neoliberal institutionalism position, while Stephen Krasner’s edited collection International Regimes carries on the debate about international cooperation under anarchy by bringing together theorists from (neo)realist and neoliberal perspectives.

Suggested reading
Hedley Bull (1987) The Anarchical Society. London: Macmillian. Robert O. Keohane (1984) After Hegemony. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Stephen D. Krasner (ed.) (1983) International Regimes. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.



Topic 2 Morality and ethics in IR
While we often associate ethics and morality with the tradition of idealism, this is a bit of a problem for a couple of reasons. First, idealism is more complicated than I have presented it here, as there are lots of variants within it. For example, there is the cosmopolitian thought of someone like Charles Beitz (1999) and the communitarianism illustrated by Michael Waltzer (2000). Second, morality and ethics actually inform all IR traditions in one way or another, as the collection by Terry Nardin and David Mapel (1993) evidences. Finally, as the discipline of IR becomes more interdisciplinary, it is useful to bring discussions about the politics of moralizing more generally to bear on contemporary international life, as do Jane Bennett and Michael Shapiro (2002) in their collection.

Suggested reading
Charles Beitz (1999) Political Theory and International Relations, revised edition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Jane Bennett and Michael J. Shapiro (2002) The Politics of Moralizing. New York: Routledge. Terry Nardin and David Mapel (eds) (1993) Traditions of International Ethics, revised edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Michael Waltzer (2000) Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, 3rd edition. New York: Basic Books.

Media note
Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! counterposes the sanctimoniousness of Independence Day with sarcasm. Instead of tempting viewers to embrace a (neo)idealist script in which “there is an international society,” it shows aliens with a sense of humor playing with the language of (neo)idealism to hilarious (if disastrous) effect.

Classroom activity
An interesting teaching exercise would be to give a lecture (or reading assignment) on (neo)idealism to a class. Then divide the students into two groups – with one group viewing Independence Day and the other Mars Attacks! Have each group come up with a report or short essay on what they think about the myth “there is an international society” in the context of (neo)idealism based on their viewing of their specific film. Then assemble the class as a whole and have them present their views to each other. A follow-up discussion and/or lecture on the influences of cultural mediations for mythologizing international relations “truths” might offer an interesting conclusion to this teaching exercise.




Is anarchy what states make of it?

What does the myth say? Wag the Dog Practice, seduction, and dead authorship Suggestions for further thinking

61 68 74 77



Our third and final anarchy myth, “anarchy is what states make of it,” proposes a way out of the dilemmas faced by IR scholars thinking about the effects of international anarchy deterministically. If the myth “anarchy is the permissive cause of war” suggests that anarchy means international politics is likely to be conflictual and the myth “there is an international society” suggests that, mediated by international society, anarchy should be cooperative, then this new myth holds that the effects of international anarchy are not quite so predictable as either of the first two anarchy myths suggest. Anarchy is neither necessarily conflictual nor cooperative. There is no “nature” to international anarchy. “Anarchy is what states make of it.” If states behave conflictually toward one another, then it appears that the “nature” of international anarchy is conflictual. If states behave cooperatively toward one another, then it appears that the “nature” of international anarchy is cooperative. It is what states do that we must focus on to understand conflict and cooperation in international politics, according to this myth, rather than focusing on the supposed “nature” of international anarchy. States determine the “nature” of international anarchy. And, most importantly, what states do depends on what their identities and interests are, and identities and interests change. The myth “anarchy is what states make of it” is associated with a branch of the constructivist tradition of IR theory. Constructivism argues that identities and interests in international politics are not stable – they have no pre-given nature. This is as true for the identity of the sovereign nation-state as it is for the identity of international anarchy. The important thing is to look at how identities and interests are constructed – how they are made or produced in and through specific international interactions (Onuf, 1989; Wendt, 1994). Constructivism is one of the most influential IR traditions of the late 1990s and early 2000s (Walt, 1998). This is in part because what it says seems to be just common sense. We know from our own individual experiences that today we are not exactly who we were yesterday, and we are unlikely to be exactly the same tomorrow. Our identities – who we are – change, as do our interests – what is important to us. Constructivism is also so influential because its myth “anarchy is what states make of it” seems to “build a bridge” between (neo)realist “truths” and neoliberal/ (neo)idealist “truths.” There is something for everyone in constructivism. It provides the answers to all our IR problems. But the success of constructivism depends on an important move. The myth “anarchy is what states make of it” means that states decide what anarchy will be like – conflictual or cooperative. By making the state the key decision-maker about the “nature” of international anarchy, constructivism contradicts its own argument that identities and interests are always in flux. It allows that the interests of states – conflictual or cooperative – change. But by making the character of international anarchy dependent on what states decide to make it, constructivism produces the identity of the state as decision-maker, and this identity cannot be changed. If the identity of the state as decision-maker were questioned (as it is in some myths about globalization and empire; see Chapters 6 and 7), the constructivist myth “anarchy is what states make of it” would not function. The myth “anarchy is what states make of it” was proposed by one of the leading constructivist IR theorists of the 1990s and early 2000s, Alexander Wendt, in his 1992 essay “Anarchy is What States Make of it: The Social Construction of



Power Politics.” In this chapter, I will summarize the argument Wendt makes in support of his myth and focus explicitly on how Wendt stabilizes the decision-making character of the state to functionally guarantee the “truth” of his myth. I will turn to the film Wag the Dog as my interpretive guide for a functional critique of Wendt’s myth. Wag the Dog is a comic film about producing a phony war to distract the US public’s attention from the troubles of its president. As such, the film illustrates how the producing function of identities and interests works. Production works by not letting people see the moves behind the scenes that make what is produced – whether that is a phony war or an IR myth – appear to be true. Production, in other words, works though seduction – through “withholding something from the visible” (Baudrillard, 1987: 21), even though there may be nothing to see. The (neo)realist anarchy myth is a seductive myth. With its emphasis on the structure of international anarchy, it seems to withhold from view the authors of this structure of international anarchy. Seduced by (neo)realism, Wendt asks the obvious question, “who is the author of international anarchy?” And he gives us his answer – socially constructed states. But, as the film Wag the Dog implies, maybe asking “who is the author?” is the wrong question. Maybe a more interesting question is “how do practices work to make us believe there is an author of international anarchy?”

What does the myth say?
In his 1992 essay “Anarchy is What States Make of It,” Alexander Wendt takes as his point of departure the classic dispute between realists and idealists – updated as (neo)realists and neoliberals – over the behavior of states in international politics. Must state behavior be conflictual, as (neo)realists argue, or might it become increasingly cooperative, as neoliberals hope? A lot of how you think about state behavior, Wendt tells us, depends on how you think about the “nature of international anarchy.” Is it a structure that puts constraints on state behavior so that competition and conflict are guaranteed and much cooperation is ruled out (Waltz, 1979; see Chapter 2) or is it a place in which processes of learning take place among states in their everyday interactions so that more cooperative institutions and behaviors result (Kegley, 1993; see Chapter 3)? Wendt claims that the debate about international anarchy boils down to a debate about which of these two aspects of anarchy theorists decide to stress – structure or process. Yet however much (neo)realist and neoliberal scholars divide on the issue of structure vs. process, they have three things in common. Wendt claims that all these theorists agree that (1) states are the dominant actors in international politics; (2) rationalism is the theoretical disposition through which they explain international state interactions; and (3) security is defined in “self-interested” terms (Wendt, 1995: 130; see Table 4.1). While Wendt doesn’t seem to find any problems with the statecentricism of these traditions, he does have worries about their rationalism and the very different ways they think about self-interest. Wendt worries that the (neo)realist and neoliberal commitment to rationalism restricts how theorists can think about international change. He suggests that


CONSTRUCTIVISM Table 4.1 What do (neo)realists and neoliberals agree and disagree about? Agree 1 States are the dominant actors in international politics 2 Rationalism is the theoretical disposition through which international state interactions are explained 3 Security is defined in “self-interested” terms Disagree Whether to emphasize structure (as (neo)realists like Waltz do) or process (as neoliberals like Kegley do) when explaining state interactions in international anarchy

“rationalism offers a fundamentally behavioral conception of both process and institutions: they change behavior but not identities and interests” (Wendt, 1995: 129–30). The problem with rationalism, then, is that it takes the identities and interests of states as given, thereby welcoming questions about changes in state behavior but not being open to questions about changes in state identities and interests. This is a problem for Wendt because it restricts how IR theorists are able to think about the notion of “self-interest.” (Neo)realists think of self-interest in terms of “self-help.” As we saw in the Waltzian myth “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war,” self-help defines the behavior of states in a system of structural anarchy – one in which there is no orderer. Self-help flows from the structural arrangement of international politics. According to Waltz, it is not an institution that can be changed. Therefore, states cannot learn to overcome the limits of international anarchy – the deterministic structure of anarchy makes states look out for themselves in order to survive. All they can learn to do is to adjust to these limits of anarchy. As Wendt puts it, in this system “only simple learning or behavioral adaptation is possible; the complex learning involved in redefinitions of identity and interest is not” (Wendt, 1995: 130). This limit to state learning is imposed by thinking about international anarchy is (neo)realist terms which are also rationalist terms. Wendt suggests that these limits on thinking about changes in state learning are found in “weak” liberal arguments as well because such liberals “concede to (neo)realists the causal powers of anarchical structure,” even while they argue that processes of learning can take place within (neo)realist-defined anarchy. But other liberals – those he terms “strong liberals” – want to move away from simple learning to complex learning, from thinking only about changes in state behavior to theorizing changes in state identities and interests. Wendt’s sympathies lie with these “strong liberals.” Yet he laments that because of their commitment to rationalism, “neoliberals lack a systematic theory of how such changes occur and thus must privilege realist insights about structure while advancing their own insights about process” (Wendt, 1995: 131; see Box 4.1). If only there were a theory that would allow them to take structure seriously by recognizing that “transformations of identity and interest through process are transformations of structure” (Wendt, 1995:



Box 4.1 What’s wrong with rationalism?
1 Rationalism takes the identities and interests of states as given because it only recognizes changes in states behaviour but not changes in states themselves (i.e. their identities and interests) Rationalism also takes the identities of and the interests generated from international anarchy as given. For rationalists, neither the structure of international anarchy nor the self-help system it is said to produce can be changed Overall, rationalism limits theoretical understandings of change in agents and structures because it only examines changes in behavior and excludes an examination of changes in identities and interests



131). And, guess what, there is such a theory – Wendtian constructivism (Wendt, 1995: 131–2). Constructivism might not only offer neoliberals the theory of change they need to be able to privilege process over structure, but because it takes structure seriously it might also be able to “build a bridge” between (neo)realism and neoliberalism (Wendt, 1994, 1995: 132). And if that can be done, then maybe we won’t have to choose between defining the character of international anarchy as either predominately conflictual or predominately cooperative any longer. But to get to this place, we have to recognize that the character of international anarchy is not pre-given but the outcome of state interactions, and that self-help is not an immutable feature of international anarchy. Wendt puts it like this, “There is no ‘logic’ of anarchy apart from the practices that create and instantiate one structure of identities and interests rather than another; structure has no existence or causal powers apart from process. Self-help and power politics are institutions, not essential features of anarchy. Anarchy is what states make of it” (Wendt, 1995: 132; italics in original). How does Wendt make his argument that there is no logic of anarchy and that self-help is an institution that can be changed rather than one that determines the behavior of states? He does so by challenging the (neo)realist logic of anarchy, a logic which makes self-help an unalterable aspect of international anarchy that leads to competition and conflict. And he does this by reclaiming a place for practice in international politics (see Figure 4.1). Wendt argues that, whatever one may think of Waltz’s overall argument in Man, the State and War (1954), this early attempt by Waltz to understand international anarchy left a place for state practice that was written out of his Theory of International Politics (1979). In Waltz’s early book, international anarchy is what allowed wars to occur, but something else always had to happen – some first- or second-image practice by states. But in the later book, international anarchy became a structural principle that made states behave competitively and often conflictually, making first- and second-image explanations of war seem unnecessary (Wendt, 1995: 133–4; see Chapter 2). According to Wendt, the place of practice can and must be reclaimed within this “(neo)realist description of the contemporary



Wendtian constructivism No logic to anarchy Anarchy is an effect of practice “Anarchy is what states make of it”

(Neo)realism Logic of anarchy is structural and leads to conflict

Neoliberalism Logic of anarchy is a process that can lead to cooperation

Figure 4.1 Wendt’s constructivist bridge between (neo)realists and neoliberals

state system as a competitive, self-help world” (Wendt, 1995: 134). And, if practice is recovered, we can accept this description of the world without accepting its explanation of competitive and conflictual state behavior as a necessary structural outcome. Put differently, by restoring an emphasis on practice among states, Wendt believes he will be able to recover process among states – processes that may transform international anarchy from either necessarily conflictual (for (neo)realists) or cooperative (for neoliberals) into “what states make of it” (Wendt, 1995: 134). How Wendt recovers practice and process within this (neo)realist description of international politics is by arguing that there are at least two structures that explain state behavior in international politics. The first, which has been Wendt’s focus so far, is international anarchy. The second is “the intersubjectively constituted structure of identities and interests in the system” (Wendt, 1995: 138). If we acknowledge only the first structure of international anarchy, we pretty much end up with Waltz’s (neo)realist explanation of international politics or, alternatively, a “weak liberal” argument that, even within structural anarchy, some cooperative behavior is possible. If, however, we include the second intersubjectively constituted structure of identities and interests, then international anarchy is not necessarily either conflictual or cooperative. So, how does Wendt think about this intersubjectively constituted structure of identities and interests? Wendt takes states as his point of departure. States are the fundamental actors in international politics. These state actors “acquire identities – relatively stable, role-specific understandings and expectations about self” (Wendt, 1995: 135) through their relationships with other actors and the meaning structures they find themselves in. “Identities are the basis of interests” which are once again constructed relationally (Wendt, 1995: 136). Moving from actors to identities to interests, we finally end up with institutions. “An institution is a relatively stable set or ‘structure’ of identities and interests” (Wendt, 1995: 136). “Institutions are fundamentally cognitive entities that do not exist apart from actors’ ideas about how the world works” (Wendt, 1995: 136). Wendt is not trying to make a “which came first” argument – identities or institutions. He is trying to say that identities, interests, and institutions all result from interactive, social processes and that they are “mutually constitutive” (Wendt,



1995: 137). We may think institutions are “already there” because we rely on them to orient our behavior, but institutions are not pre-given. They are constituted through social interactions among identities. Similarly, identities are not pre-given either, but are formed through interactions with other identities and with collective social institutions. What does this mean for Wendt’s myth “anarchy is what states make of it”? It means that even if we accept the (neo)realist description of the world as an anarchical, self-help world, by supplementing this anarchical structure with the intersubjectively constituted structure of identities and interests, then neither anarchy nor self-help are meaningful terms prior to the social interactions of states. Anarchy and self-help only become meaningful once social interactions have taken place. And, because “people act toward objects, including other actors, on the basis of the meanings that the objects have for them” (Wendt, 1995: 135), and because the objects of “anarchy” and “self-help” have no meaning prior to state interactions, we will only know if anarchy and self-help will lead to conflict or cooperation once we know what states do socially (Box 4.2). Taking these two structures together, what can we say about state behavior in a competitive, self-help anarchical system prior to social interaction? We cannot say it will be necessarily conflictual or cooperative. We can say, according to Wendt, that states will try to survive (Wendt, 1995: 139). But how they will achieve that survival is an open question. With all this in mind, Wendt invites us to think of an example in which two actors have no prior social contact, stumble across one another, and both want to ensure their continued survival. His example is the arrival of aliens to earth. Wendt asks, “Would we assume, a priori, that we were about to be attacked if we are ever contacted by members of an alien civilization? I think not” (Wendt, 1995: 141–2). Yes, we’d be cautious, he argues, but we would probably not want to appear to be threatening to the aliens unless they were first threatening to us, as we would want “to avoid making an immediate enemy out of what may be a dangerous adversary” (Wendt, 1995: 142). We would read the aliens’ social signals before deciding whether we would behave conflictually or cooperatively. And, importantly, Wendt argues “we would not begin our relationship with the aliens in a security dilemma; security dilemmas are not given by anarchy or nature” (Wendt, 1995: 144).

Box 4.2 Three fundamental principles of constructivist social theory
1 2 3 “People act toward objects, including other actors, on the basis of the meanings that the objects have for them”: SOCIAL KNOWLEDGE “The meanings in terms of which action is organized arise out of interaction”:

“Identities [and interests] are produced in and through ‘situated activity’”: SOCIAL

Source: Wendt, 1995



The same is true of sovereign states in their social interactions. On first meeting, two states (which Wendt refers to as “alter” and “ego”) have no reason to assume the worst of one another. Yes, they each want to survive and to preserve their own unique ways of being states – of organizing their systems of governance. But none of this suggests that they are in a “security dilemma” in which self-help principles prevail. States do not necessarily have to increase their power to increase their security because every other state poses a threat to them. “Social threats are constructed, not natural” (Wendt, 1995: 141). Prior to social interaction, there is no such thing as a social threat. It is identities that produce collective meanings like social threats, and “identities are produced in and through ‘situated activity’ ” (Wendt, 1995: 144). If, in this particular situated activity, the only prior interest states have is to survive, then this means that it is not a priori in a state’s interest to make a social threat. A state (alter) may choose to make a social threat, or ego may interpret alter’s actions as threatening. But prior to social interaction, alter and ego are not in a security dilemma. Wanting to survive in no way guarantees that alter or ego will behave conflictually toward one another. Nor, of course, does their interest in survival guarantee they will cooperate. Anarchy is what alter and ego make of it (see Table 4.2). Additionally, Wendt adds, “If states find themselves in a self-help system, this is because their practices made it that way. Changing the practices will change the intersubjective knowledge that constitutes the system” (Wendt, 1995: 144). So even if alter and ego make anarchy conflictual by creating a self-help system, they can always escape this self-help system by changing the ways they think about and then act in this system. This is why Wendt argues “that the meaning in terms of which action is organized arise out of interactions” (Wendt, 1995: 140). And Wendt goes on to make this point explicitly, by illustrating how “identities and interests are transformed under anarchy: by the institution of sovereignty, by an evolution of cooperation, and by intentional efforts to transform egoistic identities into collective identities” (Wendt, 1995: 133). But probably the most important move Wendt makes in his essay is not found in his critique of rationalism or in his critique of self-help. Rather, it is in his lack of a critique of state-centrism. He acknowledges that making the state the focus of his analysis may strike some theorists, especially postmodernists, as “depressingly familiar” (Wendt, 1995: 163). But, of course, it is only by keeping the state as the central decision-maker in his constructivist explanation of international politics that Wendt can conclude that “anarchy is what states make of it.” Wendt defends his state-centricism on the grounds that “the authorship of the human world” must not be forgotten. For to forget the author is to risk reifying the world – to make it an object that is already there that actors relate to rather than to recognize it as a “world of our making” (as another constructivist with a different take on constructivism, Nicholas Onuf, puts it; Onuf, 1989; Wendt, 1995: 147). Wendt is critical of realists for reifying the structure of international anarchy. He puts it like this: “By denying or bracketing states’ collective authorship of their identities and interests . . . the realist–rationalist alliance denies or brackets the fact that competitive power politics help create the very ‘problem of order’ they are supposed to solve – that realism is a self-fulfilling prophecy” (Wendt, 1995: 148). But


CONSTRUCTIVISM Table 4.2 Three stories of international anarchy Realism Actors Goals Actors’ behavior in anarchy States Survival Increase power to ensure survival Idealism States Survival Promote social learning through: • institutions (e.g. UN) • ideas (e.g. democracy and liberal capitalism) International society Constructivism States Survival Unpredictable prior to social interaction

What mitigates state behavior?

Self-help because • no world government (anarchy) • cooperation among states unreliable

Intersubjectively constituted structure of identities and interests • if state identities and interests produced as competitive → competition • if state identities and interests produced as cooperative → cooperation Anarchy is what states make of it

Logic of anarchy



anarchy is not a problem external to states. It is produced through the “competitive identities and interests” states create through their everyday activities. “It is what states have made of themselves” (Wendt, 1995: 148). This is a strong argument for accepting the authorship of the state – for viewing anarchy as a product of state activities rather than as a self-help, competitive structure that traps states into behaving conflictually toward one another. The film Wag the Dog illustrates the moves in Wendt’s constructivist myth. It demonstrates how identities, interests, and institutions are intersubjectively constituted. And it seems to support Wendt’s point that reifying or forgetting the authorship of acts can have dangerous consequences – even leading to war (or the perception of war at least). Either way, real people die. Authorship, it seems to suggest, must be transparent for democratic institutions to operate properly. It must withhold nothing from view. It must not be seductive.



But Wag the Dog also makes us wonder if production/authorship can ever be effectively separated from seduction – if authorship can ever be transparent. If not, then we have to ask what the seduction of authorship does. Wendt’s answer, as we know, is authorship reifies what authors supposedly make (like anarchy). Wag the Dog’s answer is more complicated. Its answer is this. Yes, seduction reifies production – not just of what authors supposedly make but of authors themselves. And, this answer goes on, this reification of authorship is terribly clever because there is no guarantee practices can reliably be traced to authors.

Wag the Dog
Wag the Dog opens with a joke that appears on the screen. “Why does a dog wag its tail?” “Because a dog is smarter than its tail. If the tail were smarter, the tail would wag the dog.” The film then cuts to a less-than-slick television commercial, in which a couple of jockies discuss why they will support the president in the up-coming election – they know it is unwise to “change horses in midstream.” Cut to exterior of the White House. Cut to interior of the White House. A man in a rumpled hat, raincoat, and suit has arrived. He looks ordinary enough (apart from the fact that he is Robert De Niro). He makes his way into the bowels of the White House, into a safe room in which he is the focus of a crisis meeting. He is Conrad Brean or “Mr Fix It,” as the president’s assistant Winifred refers to him. Conrad/Connie is briefed on the current crisis. A Firefly Girl has alleged sexual misconduct against the president while she was alone with the president in the oval office. The president’s campaign opponent, Senator Neal, already has word of the story and is ready to run a new campaign commercial. Connie and his team view the new spot in the crisis room. The spot pans a crowd of what we suppose are the president’s supporters cheering. Underneath is a question that is spoken in a voice over, “In the final days of the campaign, has the president changed his tune?” The commercial cuts to the exterior of the White House as we hear Maurice Chevalier singing “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.” The commercial cuts back and forth between this exterior shot and an interior shot of the president’s empty desk chair in the oval office. The voice over continues, “The Presidency is about honor, its about principles, and it’s about integrity. This tune has got to change. On election day, vote Neal for president.” Mr Fix It goes to work. The election is 11 days away. All he has to do is distract the public’s attention from this sexual crisis long enough to ensure the president is reelected. How he decides to do this is by changing the story – by inventing something the US public will find more gripping than this sexual scandal. He decides to delay the president’s return from China and start a series of rumors about nonexistent weaponry and a non-existent war to distract the public. He explains his plan to the president’s staff in a pretend dialog between a staff member and a newspaper reporter.



Connie: Whoever’s leaking that stuff to that geek at the Post lets it slip. Gees, I hope this won’t screw-up the B3 program. What B3 program and why should it screw it up? Well, if the president decides to deploy the B3 before it’s fully tested . . . Deploy the B3 before it’s fully tested? Why? Why? The crisis? Winifred [interrupting Connie’s imaginary dialogue]: What crisis? Connie: Well, I’m workin’ on that. [Carrying on with his plan, Connie continues]: At the same time, get General Scott of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and pour him on a plane right away to Seattle. He’s all flustered and nervous to talk to the Boeing people. Winifred: Right [to Connie]. Do it [to an assistant]. Assistant: But, but . . . Connie: But what? Assistant: But there isn’t a B3 bomber. Connie: Where did you go to school kid, Wellesley? Assistant: Dartmouth. Connie: Then show a little spunk. There is no B3 bomber. General Scott to the best of your knowledge is not in Seattle to talk to Boeing. Winifred: It won’t work, Connie. It won’t prove out. Connie: It doesn’t have to prove out. We’ve just gotta distract ’em, just gotta distract ’em. We’ve got less than two weeks until the election. Winifred: What in the world would do that? What in the world would do that? Connie: I’m workin’ on it. I’m working on it. What Connie comes up with is a way to “change the story, change the lead” by creating the “appearance of a war” between the USA and Albania – a country that (at the time this film was made, prior to the war in Kosovo) the US public knew very little about. He and Winifred fly to Hollywood to enlist the aid of film producer Stanley Motss because, as Conrad puts it, “War is showbusiness.” When it becomes clear to Stanley that Connie wants him to help with the “war,” Connie tries to explain to him what kind of help he has in mind. Stanley: And you want me to do what? Connie: We want you to produce. Stanley [expressing shock and disbelief]: You want me to produce your war? Connie: It’s not a war. It’s a pageant. We need a theme, a song, some visuals. We need, you know, it’s a pageant. It’s like the Oscars. That’s why we came to you. Stanley: I never won an Oscar. Connie: And that’s a damn shame you didn’t, but you produced the Oscars. Stanley [getting the idea]: It’s a pageant. Connie: It’s “Miss America.” You’re Bert Parks. Having successfully pitched the idea of a US war with Albania to Stanley, Stanley and his team produce the war – its script revolving around Albanian terrorists trying to smuggle a nuclear bomb into the USA via Canada in a suitcase; “news footage” of an “Albanian girl” escaping from rebels in Albania that is leaked to the press and run



on all the news programs; choreographing the president’s return from China at which time he is given an offering of thanks by a small “Albanian girl and her grandmother”; not to mention a couple of songs and countless merchandizing tieins. And all of it is consumed by television viewers as real. And then, the “war” “ends.” Senator Neal, the president’s electoral opponent, announces on television that he has evidence from the CIA that the war is over. Stanley is upset. Stanley [angry]: He can’t end the war. He’s not producing this. Connie [exasperated]: The war’s over guys. Stanley: No! Connie [now matter-of-factly]: It’s over. I saw it on television. Stanley: No, the war isn’t over ’til I say its over. This is my picture. This is not the CIA’s picture . . . But then Stanley devises a scheme to keep productive control of “his picture” even though someone else ended “his” war. He tells Connie, “This is nothing. This is nothing. This is just ‘Act I: The War.’ Now we really do need an ‘Act II’.” He continues to spin the war story, now taking place after the war has officially ended. He decides there is a US soldier trapped behind enemy lines who doesn’t know the war is over. He has been separated from his troop. US forces will now mobilize to rescue him. Proud of himself, Stanley tells Connie, “Bottom of the 9th [swings an imaginary baseball bat]. Alright? Alright? They don’t know who they’re playing with. They don’t shut down our picture.” And so the show goes on, even when the US soldier they “cast” as the hero turns out to be a psychotic imprisoned for raping a nun, even when the hero’s return is delayed because the plane he, Connie, Stanley, and Winifred are travelling in crashes, and even when the “hero” is killed by a shopkeeper because he is trying to rape the shopkeeper’s daughter. Stanley simply scripts a patriotic funeral for the returned hero. And the story holds long enough to ensure the president’s reelection. What does all this tell us about the world of Wag the Dog? How does this film make sense of the world? What does it say is typical and what is deviant in that world? The world of Wag the Dog is a made-in-the-media world. TV shows and news broadcasters define reality, even to the extent that they make us believe that the USA is at war with Albania. And because television is where reality happens, television is the only place reality can be transformed. For example, early in the film the CIA confront Connie and Winifred with “the facts” that there is no evidence of a war in Albania or of any Albanian nuclear device in Canada. But this is not enough to “end the war.” The only way the war can be ended is the way it was started – on television. Connie articulates this when he declares the war is over because “I saw it on television.” It is through the medium of television that information and ideas are disseminated. And, more importantly, what this practice of dissemination does is construct and reconstruct identities, interests and institutions in the world of Wag the Dog. Stanley is reconstructed from a Hollywood producer into a producer of a war with an interest in keeping “his” picture going until he can bring it to some



Box 4.3 How does Wag the Dog make sense of the world?
Reality is produced, circulated, and transformed through the media, especially television. It is through the media that identities, interests, and institutions appear to be constructed and reconstructed

poignant closure. The US public are constructed as patriots with an interest in beating the Albanians and securing the US borders. The institution of war is transformed from something that occurs in places like Albania, the USA, and Canada into something that occurs in televisual spaces. All these identities, interests, and institutions co-construct one another. All this seems to illustrate the “intersubjectively constituted structure of identities and interests” (Wendt, 1995: 136) of which Wendt writes (Box 4.3). And as the mediatic magic of war replaces both the upcoming presidential election and the president’s alleged indiscretion with a Firefly Girl as the only tale in town, the film seems to invite us to take the notion of tales – and tails – as seriously as it does. What’s all this preoccupation with tales, tails, and wagging about anyway? One way to approach this question is by asking another – what is typical and what is deviant in the world of Wag the Dog? And seeking an answer to this question takes us back to the joke that the film opened with – “Why does a dog wag its tail? Because a dog is smarter than its tail. If the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog.” In light of this joke, the film’s title, and the film’s plot, it seems fair to conclude that what is typical in the world of Wag the Dog is for the tail to wag the dog, and what is deviant is for a dog to wag its tail. All of this encourages us to ask “who is the dog and who is the tail?” It is this sort of question that Wendtian constructivism gives into. One answer might be that the dog is the US public and the tail is the politicos of Washington who employed Connie, Stanley, and Winifred. Another might be that the media wag the politicos who wag the public. Either way, the US public is constructed as being wagged all the time – as that which is constructed. In contrast, the tail decides how the wagging will be performed. The tail (politics/media) is the author of the tale (story) about the war (see Table 4.3). One might think of Wag the Dog as a clever parable of Wendt’s myth “anarchy is what states make of it,” rewritten as something like “war is what producers make of it.” Either way it is phrased, the moral is the same. And this moral is the very one Wendt evoked in his defense of a state-centric/actor-centric approach to understanding international politics. That defense was this – if we forget who the author of practices is, then we cannot hold that author accountable. We end up responding to identities, interests, and institutions as if they were authored by no one. In Wag the Dog, we respond to staged events like war as if they were real, which gives them some reality. And in international politics, we respond to “the logic of anarchy” and its accompanying self-help security dilemma as if they were real, thereby giving them some reality.


CONSTRUCTIVISM Table 4.3 What seems to be typical and deviant in the world of Wag the Dog? Typical For the tail (spin doctors and policy-makers) to wag the dog (the US public) Deviant For the dog (the US public) to wag its tail (spin doctors and policy-makers)

But identities, interests, and institutions are authored by someone, Wendt suggests. Authorship is always at the bottom of production. It is only by keeping the author in mind that we can hold the author accountable and, maybe even more importantly, recognize that we are the authors of our own lives. Anarchy is what states make of it. War is what producers make of it. Our lives are what we make of them. Wendt’s warnings about the dangers of reification are echoed in the film by Stanley, the Hollywood producer. Stanley asks Connie, “Where do movies come from if nobody produces them, Connie? Where do they come from?” Stanley asks this question because his tale about war, a hero’s triumphant return, and the hero’s patriotic funeral seem to come from nowhere. But Stanley knows they result from production, and he is the producer. Throughout the film, Stanley waxes philosophically about production. Producing is problem-solving: Stanley: If you’ve got a problem, solve it. That’s producing. Producing is heroic: Stanley: Producing is being a samurai warrior. They pay you day in, day out for years so that one day when called upon you can respond, your training at its peak, and save the day. And producing is invisible: Stanley: Thinking ahead. Thinking ahead. That’s what producing is. Connie: It’s like being a plumber. Stanley: Yes, like being a plumber. You do your job right, nobody should notice. But when you fuck up, everything gets full of shit. But it is this last aspect of production – its invisibility – that makes it so problematic both for Stanley and for Wendt. According to Stanley, production only truly functions when it is seductive – when it withholds its own acts of production from view. For production to work, nobody should notice. While Stanley knows this about production and producers, it is also what bothers him about production. He has never won an Oscar because, as he tells Connie, “There is no Oscar for producing.” Producing is never recognized. It is always invisible. So when his “patriotic pageant” is winding up, he quarrels with Connie because he finally wants proper recognition for the work he has done.



Connie: You can’t do it. Stanley [angrily]: Don’t you tell me that. Don’t you ever tell me that. I’m the producer of this show. [Looks out the window at the set where the patriotic funeral of the returned war hero is being shot.] Look at that. That is a complete fucking fraud, and it looks 100% real. [contemplatively, softly] It’s the best work I’ve ever done in my whole life, because it’s so honest . . . [insistently] I tell you, for once in my life I will not be pissed on. I want . . . I want the credit. I want the credit. Stanley knows that if he is allowed to have “the credit,” the whole picture will fall apart. He just doesn’t want to accept what he knows about production when it comes to credit. He knows production is only revealed when there is a problem. When there is no problem, production and the producer are out of sight. And because they are out of sight, we long for them. We want to see the processes of production and the producer who is pulling all the strings. But, as Wag the Dog makes explicit, the deal is we can have our entertaining movie only if we suspend our interest in the processes of production and in the producer. In this sense, production is always tied to seduction. That’s the deal. The story/film/tale teases us into wanting what we cannot see – what is seductively withheld from the visible – while at the same time it promises not to show us too much. For if we knew about all the special effects and all the dramas behind the drama, we would lose interest in the drama itself. That’s why it is so hard to be a producer – because the deal is that you can never take the credit. If you do, the audience will be disillusioned with your production, so any “credit” for that job well done will dissolve. What Stanley knows about production is the same thing Wendt knows. Just as the invisibility of Stanley’s role as producer guarantees that his tale about war appears to be true, the invisibility of the state’s role as producer guarantees that (neo)realism’s tale about international anarchy appears to be true. By “exposing” states as the producers/decision-makers who make international anarchy, Wendt ensures that the (neo)realist anarchy tale ceases to function as if no one authored it. Stanley and Wendt both implicitly understand that production is tied to seduction. But neither of them seems to know that seduction doesn’t necessarily conceal an author. Seduction doesn’t just tease us into wanting what we cannot see. It convinces us that there is something there to see. It fools us not only about what might be a “real” or a “false” tale. The tale itself tricks us into thinking that there is an author of the tale. For Wendt, as for the film Wag the Dog, asking “who is the author?” is an important question to guard against the evils of reification. And for Wendt at least, it is a necessary question. For it is by asking the question of authorship that Wendt gets us out of the (neo)realist anarchy myth by emphasizing state practices in the production of international anarchy. But I wonder if this is where the constructivist emphasis on practice should be placed. Because the film raises another question: Does the tail wag the dog or does the tale wag the tail that appears to wag the dog? Put differently, is anarchy what states make of it or do practices (which Wendt does not consider) make states that appear to make anarchy?



Practice, seduction, and dead authorship
Wendt’s myth “anarchy is what states make of it” gets us out of the (neo)realist anarchy myth in which international anarchy determines that states will compete to ensure their survival relying on self-help logics. Wendt gets us here by emphasizing practice in international politics – specifically, how the practices of socially constructed states make international anarchy into what it is, whatever that may be. So Wendt emphasizes practice by emphasizing what states do. In this sense, Wendt’s socially constructed states are the tails that wag international anarchy. They are the authors of anarchy. But there are other practices that Wendt ignores, and these are the practices that construct states themselves as decision-makers who then go on to make international anarchy. This second set of practices concerns tales/stories rather than tails/actors. On this reading, tales or stories construct states as tails/authors who then wag/make anarchy. It is only by excluding this second set of practices – the practices that construct states as decision-makers or producers of international anarchy – that Wendt can claim states as the authors of anarchy. Put differently, the tale/story must go without saying for Wendt’s own constructivist tale “anarchy is what states make of it” to function. But in the mediatic world of Wag the Dog and in the Wendtian world of constructivism, the tale/story is a bunch of practices that no one ultimately controls. Think about it. Ask yourself the question “who is the ultimate decision-maker in the film?” Several answers present themselves. The answer is not Stanley. If for no other reason, we know this because when Stanley refuses to let the picture roll without credits – when he makes it clear he cannot abide by the agreement that he can never tell anyone about what he has done – Connie authorizes the government thugs to kill him. So does that make Connie the author/decision-maker? He certainly seems to be the “real” producer. He is the one who came up with the story. He is the one who initially organized it. He just delegated some of this authority to Stanley. So maybe Mr Fit It is the real center of decision-making power in the film. Except this answer doesn’t hold up because we know that just as Connie delegated decision-making responsibility to Stanley, the president delegated decision-making authority to Connie. So is the president the ultimate decision-maker in the world of Wag the Dog? Some might answer yes. I would answer no. My answer is there is not necessarily a decision-maker behind the scenes. And this answer comes from thinking once again about how the film makes sense of the world. As I mentioned before, the film makes sense of the world through the media. It is the circulation of ideas/stories/tales through the media that constructs reality and tells us what to think. And, throughout the film, the president, Connie, and Stanley are always responding to the mediatic presentation of events, trying to come up with problem-solving solutions to them. But trying to solve a problem – what Stanley calls producing – is only a response. It means that production is driven by practices – by the mediatic representation of the tale. The tail/producer, then, doesn’t wag the dog/public. The tale/practices wags the tail/producer so that it appears that the tail/producer wags the dog/public (Table 4.4).


CONSTRUCTIVISM Table 4.4 Reconsidering what is typical and deviant in the world of Wag the Dog Typical For the tale (mediatic practices) to wag the tail (producers/spin doctors/ policy-makers) so that it appears that the tail (producers) wags the dog (US public) Deviant Either: • For the dog (US public) to wag its tail (producers/spin doctors/policy-makers) or • For the tail (producers/spin doctors/ policy-makers) to “really” wag the dog (US public) without being wagged by the tale (mediatic practices) itself

Consider these examples. The president needs to bring in Connie to fend off a political crisis before the election because the news media will run the story of his alleged sexual misconduct with the Firefly Girl the next morning. The tale/ story drives the president’s decision to employ Connie. Connie understands that tales – not tails – wag dogs. And so he invents another tale to rival the tale of the president’s alleged sexual misconduct. His tale is a US war with Albania. Senator Neal, appreciating how tales are wagging tales now, intervenes to put a stop to his electoral opponent’s strategy. He doesn’t do this by saying “there is no war,” even though he clearly has the “evidence on the ground” that there is no war because he has been consulting with the CIA. No, he recognizes that it would be political suicide to speak the “truth” that there is only a mediatic war. So he spins another tale to the tale to the tale – that the war is about to end. By ending the war on television, Senator Neal ends the war. Never mind that Stanley insists this is his war and no one else can end it. The war is over because what happens on television is real. Examples like these abound in the film. Indeed, the whole film is framed from beginning to end through the media. The film opens with a campaign commercial supporting the president and it ends with the following television special report, “A group calling itself Albania Unite has claimed responsibility for this morning’s bombing of the village of Close, Albania. The president could not be reached for comment, but General William Scott of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he has no doubt we’ll be sending planes and troops back in to finish the job.” What do these two media bookends tell us about the mediatic world of Wag the Dog? Obviously, beginning and ending a film with television spots testifies to the importance of mediatic practices in the world of Wag the Dog. But it does more than this. There is a movement depicted in the film from thinking you can reliably trace the authorship of mediatic events back to an author to knowing you cannot. The opening campaign spot seems easy enough to trace. It is an advertisement for the president paid for by the campaign to reelect the president. But what about the final special news bulletin. Who authored that? It wasn’t Stanley because Stanley is dead. It is unlikely to be either Connie or the president because Connie’s job was over when the president’s reelection was assured, and that occurred before this special report. So who is the author? Is it the media itself? Maybe in part but never



entirely, because as the world of Wag the Dog showed us, the media are always responding to stories/tales. So, as the film ends, we are left with the tale still spinning and no one onto whom we can pin the tale/tail, so to speak. Authorship is unreliable. We’ll keep searching for authors because the seductive practices of production make us believe we might find them one day. But no amount of wanting authors to be findable or authorship to be more reliable will make it that way. Authorship cannot be guaranteed. In the end, we only have a tale – a bunch of practices that gave us not only the illusion of a war but the illusion of an author/producer/decision-maker behind the war. What does this all mean for Wendt’s constructivist myth “anarchy is what states make of it”? It means that however well intentioned Wendt is in trying to give us an escape from some reified “logic of anarchy,” he only succeeds in getting us out of some deterministic conflict/cooperation debate by determining the character of the state. In other words, Wendt only manages to escape the reification of international anarchy by reifying the state as decision-maker. Wendt can allow that states can change roles – from producers of conflict to producers of cooperation, for example, just as Stanley changed roles from producer of films to producer of a war. But Wendt cannot tell us how states get produced as producers. His constructivism draws the line of taking practice seriously under the state. States can make practices, but – however much he might claim the contrary – Wendt’s constructivism does not allow states to be produced. They are already there. They have to be. They are the producers of anarchy. “Anarchy is what states make of it.” Wendt’s constructivist myth “anarchy is what states make of it” is a comforting myth. It promises to free us from deterministic logics of anarchy. It claims to build a bridge between (neo)realists and neoliberals. And, most importantly, it answers the seductive question “who is the author of international anarchy?” and gives us an author – states. IR theorists want all of this. And that is why Wendtian constructivism has been so popular among IR theorists. But by accepting these benefits of Wendtian constructivism, we are also accepting its liabilities. And constructivism has at least two major liabilities. First, it fails to deliver on its promise to take us beyond reification because in order to escape a reified logic of anarchy, it reifies the state. Second, by reifying the state – by insisting on the state as the author/decision-maker of all tales – constructivism misses the opportunity to deliver on another of its promises, to restore a focus on process and practice in international politics (see Table 4.5). Wag the Dog suggests to us that it is a more interesting question to ask “how does an actor appear to be a decision-maker/producer/author?” than it is to ask the seductive question “who is the real decision-maker/producer/author?” This constructivist compromise does allow us to hold states accountable for any wagging of international anarchy they may be doing, and that is an important contribution to the anarchy debates. But it prevents us from investigating practices that produce states as producers. With Wendtian constructivism, we think we understand how states as tails function in international politics. But, as Wag the Dog reminds us, wagging isn’t mostly about tails/states. It’s about tales/practices.


CONSTRUCTIVISM Table 4.5 Advantages and disadvantages of the Wendtian compromise Advantages Can hold states accountable for their part in producing anarchy as either conflictual or cooperative Disadvantages • Cannot escape reification because Wendt replaces a reified logic of anarchy with reified states • Misses the opportunity to restore a broad focus on process and practice in international politics because Wendt must exclude from consideration the practices that make states as products of anarchy in order for his myth to function

Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 Constructivism
Nicholas Onuf was the first to introduce the concept of constructivism into the IR theory debates. Onuf made his case for constructivism in his 1989 book World of Our Making. Since then, several theorists have adopted and adapted constructivism, in ways unanticipated by Onuf (as he suggests in his 1999 essay). Wendtian constructivism is the most well known. Recently, Wendt consolidated and clarified his position in his book Social Theory of International Politics. Others, like John Ruggie, have applied constructivism to readings of international politics. And the Onuf school of constructivism has carried on apace. It is not surprising, then, to read in the pages of Foreign Policy that constructivism is a necessary tool in any IR theorist’s toolbox, an argument made by Stephen Walt.

Suggested reading
V. Kublakova, Nicholas Greenwood Onuf, and Paul Kowert (eds) (1998) International Relations in a Constructed World. New York: M.E. Sharpe. Nicholas Greenwood Onuf (1989) World of Our Making. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. Nicholas Greenwood Onuf (1999) “Worlds of Our Making: The Strange Career of Constructivism in IR,” in Donald J. Puchala (ed.) Visions of IR. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. John G. Ruggie (1998) Constructing the World Polity. London: Routledge. Stephen M. Walt (1998) “International Relations: One World, Many Theories,” Foreign Policy (Spring): 29–46.


Alexander Wendt (1999) Social Theory of International Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Topic 2 Postmodernism
One of the things that makes constructivism so appealing to many IR theorists is that it is not postmodernism. Yet it was postmodernist arguments, introduced to IR theory in Richard Ashley’s pathbreaking critique of (neo)realism and through a series of essays by R.B.J. Walker (many of which are collected in his book Inside/ Outside), that got IR scholars thinking about questions of identity and practice to begin with. While constructivist scholars turned to scholars like Anthony Giddens for their insights about international politics, poststructuralist scholars turned to the works of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, and Julia Kristeva, among others. There are long-running debates between constructivists and poststructuralists (both termed “reflectivists” by Robert Keohane) about identity, practice, and politics. While Wendt’s constructivist myth “anarchy is what states makes of it” arguably de-naturalizes the logic of anarchy with its focus on state practice and thereby enables us to hold states accountable for their behaviors which produce either conflict or cooperation, poststructuralists criticize this sort of constructivism because it cannot interrogate the practices that produce states themselves. Some IR scholars have criticized poststructuralism for being apolitical because it does not identify actors and hold them accountable in traditional ways (as Wendtian constructivism does). Yet poststructuralists argue that it is precisely their insistence not to ever stop investigating how power is used to stabilize identities that makes their work politics (see George and Edkins) and makes some constructivist work politically vacuous in contrast. As this discussion should make clear, it is a poststructualist position that informs my critique of Wendt’s anarchy myth in this chapter. To use this chapter to highlight the differences between constructivist and poststructuralist approaches to states as the authors of international anarchy, a useful poststructuralist work to assign is Michel Foucault’s essay “What is an author?” For more on postmodernism (especially in relation to its debates with (neo)Marxism, see Chapter 7).

Suggested reading
Richard K. Ashley (1984) “The Poverty of Neorealism,” International Organization 38(2): 225–86. Jenny Edkins (1999) Poststructuralism and International Relations: Bringing the Political Back In. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. Michel Foucault (1984) “What is an Author?,” in Paul Rabinow (ed.) The Foucault Reader. New York: Pantheon, pp. 101–20. Jim George (1994) Discourses of Global Politics: A Critical (Re)Introduction to International Relations. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.


Robert O. Keohane (1988) “International Institutions: Two Approaches,” International Studies Quarterly 32: 379–96. R.B.J. Walker (1993) Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.




Is gender a variable?

What does the myth say? Fatal Attraction Placing feminism in IR Suggestions for further thinking

84 90 96 100



What’s an IR scholar to do about feminism? This is a question that has troubled IR scholars for decades. While feminist debates engaged people in social and political spaces outside the discipline of IR, IR scholars did their best not to see the relevance of feminism for their own debates. That didn’t stop some feminists from rethinking key IR concepts like power through feminism (Carroll, 1972), but such contributions were largely ignored by IR scholars until recently (Murphy, 1996; Pettman, 1998). It was only in the late 1980s when feminist questions pushed their way onto the IR agenda through books, journals, and conferences that feminism suddenly seemed attractive to IR scholars. And for a few years, IR’s affair with feminism flourished. Feminist essays were added to IR journals, feminist panels were added to IR conferences, and feminist jobs were added to IR departments. In the early 1990s, feminist questions – questions about the presumed gender neutrality of international politics from the standpoint of women – seemed to have been added to most aspects of IR. But its affair with feminism did not always go smoothly. Even though IR scholars (mostly men) began to welcome feminist contributions (mostly from women) into their field and even though some men even proclaimed themselves to be feminists, (mostly female) feminists were not always happy with the terms of this relationship. They kept pointing out to IR scholars (men and women) that feminist questions could not just be added to and stirred in with IR questions in ways that left the core of the discipline unchanged. They stressed that feminist questions changed the very terms in which IR was approached, understood, and studied. Furthermore, they pointed out that feminist questions were every bit as legitimate and important as IR’s classical approaches to war and peace. Needless to say, not everyone welcomed these feminist insights. While the era of dismissing feminists and feminist questions from IR debates without political risk had now passed, surely feminists must realize that the point of feminist approaches to IR was to further IR’s core agenda of asking questions about war and peace and not to destabilize the very foundation from which such questions were asked. Sometimes feminists just went too far, it seemed to (mostly male) IR scholars, to the point that feminists seemed to be out of control altogether because they insisted on asking the wrong and the most uncomfortable sorts of questions. Certainly, (mostly male) IR scholars could still advise (mostly female) feminists on how to do feminism in a way that was compatible with IR and comfortable for IR scholars. And so they did (Keohane, 1989; Weber, 1994). One effect of IR’s paternalistic engagements with feminists and feminist questions was to decrease the scope of feminist questions that IR scholars had to take seriously (Zalewski, 1993 and 1995). Feminist questions, it seemed, should not be asked about everything all the time. There seemed to be a place and a time when feminist questions mattered and when feminists should be heard. Feminism deserved a “proper” place in IR debates, but it was (mostly male) IR scholars who placed feminism – who put and kept feminism in its place (Zalewski, 1999). But feminism rarely stayed in its place. And that troubled and sometimes even scared IR scholars. How could feminism more reliably be placed as a complement to IR questions? In 1996, a solution for placing feminism presented itself in the form of Adam Jones’s essay “Does ‘Gender’ Make the World Go Round? Feminist Critiques of


a gender-free status (being outside of gender altogether). And here Jones runs into a problem, because the effect of his use of the gender variable is to construct a gendered relationship between IR and feminism, a relationship in which feminism is once again placed in the stereotypical feminized position as irrational, unbalanced, and in need of male guidance. Left unchecked and unplaced, feminism threatens to destroy IR’s family romance about man, the state, and war. In this chapter, I will explore how Jones mythologizes the existence of gender as a variable by arguing that “the gender variable” should be more balanced. I will focus on how Jones characterizes feminism, assesses feminism’s contribution to the IR/gender debates, and argues for a more comprehensive notion of a gender variable which includes a focus on men and masculinities. Finally, I will reassess Jones’s myth “gender is a variable” through the film Fatal Attraction. Fatal Attraction, the 1987 classic horror thriller about a heterosexual affair gone wrong, in many ways parallels IR’s relationship with feminism. IR scholars are attracted to feminism just as Dan Gallager/Michael Douglas is attracted to Alex Forest/Glenn Close. But this attraction can be fatal to the classic family romance – in Dan Gallager’s case about the heterosexual family; in IR’s case about war and peace. It is only by placing the feminine Alex – by keeping her in her place – that Dan survives his fatal attraction to her. And it is only by presenting himself as outside of gender that Dan’s placement of Alex seems to be acceptable, so much so that audiences cheer at her demise. But what if neither Dan nor IR can stand outside of gender? Then the myth “gender is a variable” could no longer function because gender could not be isolated from how one sees the world, especially the world of gender.



– Jones offers a few examples of what he sees as feminist IR scholars’ use of the gender variable. These serve as his answer to question 2 above, “How have feminists made use of the gender variable in IR?” Jones’s answer is, restrictively (Table 5.2). Jones’s conclusion that “feminist attempts to come to grips with the gender variable remain limited, even radically constrained” (1996: 406) follows from his illustrations of how what he has characterized as feminism has engaged with realism, the privileged pillar of the classical tradition. Jones identifies four themes/topics on
Table 5.2 How have feminists made use of the gender variable? Topic/theme Opposed dualisms Feminist argument Male and masculine structures privilege men and exclude women. These structures must be supplemented “by incorporating the gender variable,” thereby creating more opportunities for women 1 The state as either masculinist or male (radical feminist argument) 2 “The personal is political” (liberal feminist argument) Contribution to IR? No, because it blames men and masculinities for how the world is

Realist state

No, because it is an extreme and essentialist view of the state Yes, and it should be added to the three other levels of analysis – individual, state, and international No, because the argument boils down to men and masculinity being essentially bad, and women and femininity essentially good

Rational-actor model

Labels of Western-style rationality as a peculiarly male/masculinist phenomenon reflecting and perpetuating patriarchical power. Can be corrected with stereotypical “Mother Earth” essentialist ways of thinking about actors 1 Expand the range of power relationships t

no longer be described in territorial terms. We cannot say, for example, that the USA is where Empire is located, even though we can say that the USA is one of the points at and through which Empire is expressed. This is why Hardt and Negri describe Empire as having a “virtual center” rather than a true center. As a network of power relations, it is both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. So, even though Empire is very real for Hardt and Negri, it is not something we can ever pin down to one place. What this means is that the agency/ontology of Empire is postmodern. What does that mean, and how does that work? Well, postmodern agency/ontology – postmodern ways of being – differ from traditional agency/ontology in that instead of simply being there (knowing them when we see them), they appear to be foundationless, fluid, and fragmented (things we can’t really pin down). What does this



mean for Empire? By being located everywhere and nowhere at the same time, Empire is foundationless. It is not, for example, confined within a particular territorial state or group of states. Being foundationless, the forces of Empire flow across boundaries rather than remain restricted within them. They are more like what Manuel Castells refers to as global networks of informationalized flows than they are like traditional expressions of imperialism, for example (2000: 286). As such, Empire is fluid. And because Empire is located in so many different places in so many different ways all at the same time, Empire has a fractured identity. It isn’t any one thing. It is a lot of things taken in combination. So Hardt and Negri rely on postmodernism for three specific intellectual debts – to explain how international order is constructed through biopower into an international disciplinary order, to explain the deterritorialized location of Empire, and to express the fragmentary agency/ontology of Empire. It is on this final debt to postmodernism – its ontological debt – that Hardt and Negri complicate things yet again. They do so by turning to (neo)Marxism, the key theoretical foundation of their myth of Empire. Hardt and Negri want to preserve postmodern insights about ontology while at the same time insisting that Empire has a concrete character – the character of a world orderer. And so they twist and turn it a few more times. For example, very much like (but not identical to) Marx’s explanation of the logic of capital, Hardt and Negri describe Empire as “a single logic of rule” (2000: xii). Describing something as “singular” seems to contradict everything postmodernism says about agency/ ontology. Yet Hardt and Negri combine this claim with postmodern insights about agency/ontology. They suggest that as a logic and not a place, Empire is empowered by “contingency, mobility, and flexibility” (2000: 200). That sounds very postmodern. But then they go on to argue that Empire is the logic that dominates the current international order: “Empire is the new world order.” And even though Empire cannot be located in any single state or group of states, as the logical orderer of the world it is “a political subject,” “a sovereign power,” a (traditional) ontology. They then go on to describe the character of Empire as a ruler. Empire seems to be a benevolent ruler. It seems to mobilize power relations for good – for humanity, for right, for justice. But, argue Hardt and Negri, the way Empire really rules the world is through exploitation. And those who they claim are exploited (true to Marxism) are laborers. As Hardt and Negri put it, “Empire is the non-place of world production where labor is exploited” (2000: 210). So just as in capitalism where the rich get richer off the backs of the poor, in Empire the few benefit by exploiting “the multitude.” Empire’s exploitation is globally performed through political, social, and economic processes. It is through these processes of exploitation that we are able to see Empire, that “Empire is materializing before our very eyes” (2000: xi). But, very importantly, we wouldn’t be able to recognize Empire – these global processes of exploitation – if we couldn’t identify the victims of Empire’s oppression. In other words, it is the material exploitation of the multitude by Empire that makes us aware of the global processes that cause this exploitation. This is one reason why Hardt and Negri claim that “the multitude call Empire into being” (2000: 43). The multitude call Empire into being not only through their oppression. More importantly for Hardt and Negri, they call Empire into being through their resistance to this oppression.



Resistance to oppression is really what (neo)Marxism is all about. And, indeed, it is what Empire is all about. Hardt and Negri’s myth of Empire is less about trying to explain the new world order than it is about striving to understand how resistance to that new world order is happening and how it can be made more effective. If that is the case, then why have Hardt and Negri gone to such lengths to expound their myth “Empire is the new world order”? Because, they argue, “The first question of political philosophy today is not if or even why there will be resistance and rebellion, but rather how to determine the enemy against which to rebel” (2000: 211; my italics). Put differently, in order to make resistance today meaningful, the multitude have to know who or what is to be resisted. In claiming that “Empire is the new world order,” Hardt and Negri are in effect also claiming that “Empire is the new world enemy” (2000: 57; my italics). Empire is the enemy of the multitude. Empire is what is to be resisted. Empire, then, may know itself to be at “the end of history.” But, in effect, the eternity of Empire can be – and needs to be – challenged by the multitude. As Hardt and Negri put it, “Our political task . . . is not simply to resist these processes [of Empire] but to reorganize them and redirect them toward new ends. The creative forces of the multitude that sustain Empire are also capable of autonomously constructing a counter-Empire, an alternative political organization of global flows and exchanges” and, they claim, these struggles are already taking place (2000: xv). Linking up our discussions of the agency/ontology of Empire and the character of Empire, what we see in Hardt and Negri is that both postmodern and (neo)Marxist accounts of agency/ontology are crucial to how they describe Empire. For Empire to be the enemy of the multitude, it has to “be” – it has to be an agent, an ontology “against which to rebel” (2000: 211). Otherwise, Hardt and Negri fear, Empire could not be opposed. But when we look at the contemporary world, we don’t see a traditional world orderer. There is no world government. There is no traditional imperial power. All we (might) see is fragmented, fluid, and foundationless Empire. But for Hardt and Negri, this fragmented, fluid, foundationless Empire very much “is.” It is singular, a logic, a new sovereign, a new world orderer. And so it can be opposed. But because it is now a singular sovereign ruler, Empire seems to be as modern as it is postmodern. Right, so now we know a bit about what Empire is. What about the multitude? How do Hardt and Negri think about it? The multitude is a concept reminiscent of “the masses” in (neo)Marxism. Without going into any detail, the multitude – like the masses – represent both exploited labor and (because they are fed up with being exploited) revolutionary potential. In Marxism, the masses are class-based. Hardt and Negri try to complicated the class-based character of the masses in their conception of the multitude. Referring to the multitude as a “new proletariat” (2000: 402), they emphasize the indefinite identity of the multitude. The multitude is a postmodern agent/ontology. Like Empire, it is not territorially (or even merely class) based. It is fragmented, fluid, and foundationless. Like Empire, it can be composed of seemingly disjointed political elements. For example, global resistance movements under the names of Seattle, Chiapas, and the Intifada might all be part of the multitude (2000: 54–6). The disparateness of the multitude does not mean it is not a powerful agent in contemporary global politics; it just means that it is more difficult to identify the



multitude as an agent, which can make political resistance to an enemy (Empire) more difficult. But global resistance is not impossible. Yes, Hardt and Negri claim that what has kept global movements of resistance from becoming unified across regions and movements and from making sense (and, they imply, making progress, i.e. breaking out of the seemingly eternal time of Empire) as a unified global axis of resistance is their fragmented agency/ontology (2000: 54–6). But they also claim that while political movements are of course distinctive and localized – and therefore, when examined as a global whole, seem to be fragmented, fluid, and foundationless – they have two things in common. First, they share the common enemy of Empire (2000: 57). And because they share this common enemy, second, they share the common identity of the multitude (2000: 393–413; see Box 7.2). The only problem is that they just don’t always know this and therefore cannot always organize their resistances as effectively as they could (which is why intellectuals like Hardt and Negri had to write their book to explain it all). What we see here is that just as “the multitude call Empire into being,” Empire calls the multitude into being. The multitude call Empire into being as its enemy to be resisted in the form of an “international disciplinary order” and orderer. And it is only because the multitude – these fragmented resistance groups scattered around the world – have a common enemy in Empire that they know themselves to have a common identity, a common agency, a common ontology, to “be” the multitude. Who the multitude should be is a force for “counter-Empire” (2000: 207). As Hardt and Negri put it, “Globalization must be met with a counter-globalization, Empire with a counter-Empire” (2000: 207). “The multitude, in its will to be against and its desire for liberation, must push through Empire to come out the other side” (2000: 218). In the end, what Empire leaves us with is not an unruly world composed of illogical, anarchic, fragmented forces. Instead, we are left with a single logic (the logic of Empire) and a single contradiction (between Empire and the multitude). We are left, in other words, with a classic Marxist encounter between oppressor and

Box 7.2 Who are the multitude?
“a new proletariat” (2000: 402) a unified (or at least, unifiable) global axis of resistance (2000: 54–56) those who share the common enemy of Empire (2000: 393–413) “counter-Empire” (2000: 207) “the real ontological referent of philosophy” (and, I would add, history) (2000: 48) contemporary militants (2000: 413)
Source: Hardt and Negri, 2000


Empire (thesis)

Communism (desired but not inevitable outcome of conflict)

Multitude (antithesis)

Figure 7.1 The dialectical logic of Empire

oppressed. And even though Hardt and Negri reject such a reading, their characterization of this contemporary clash between Empire and counter-Empire slots nicely into a traditional Marxist materialist dialectic (see Figure 7.1). The relationship between Empire and the multitude, then, is dialectical. Empire (thesis) is opposed to the multitude (antithesis), although Hardt and Negri would insist that this Empire/multitude clash is not dialectical because it is non-teleological (i.e. it is open-ended rather than having a determined endpoint like the realization of communism, 2000: 47, 48, 51) and because (they claim) their ontologies are postmodernized (Table 7.2). By unifying global forces of oppression into a single logic called Empire, by unifying fractured forces of resistance into a single global resistor called the multitude, and by placing oppressor/Empire and oppressed/the multitude into a neat opposition, Hardt and Negri claim to solve the problem of resistance in our contemporary postmodern era. “Ontological lack” is overcome because Hardt and Negri’s ontological standpoint identifies clear ontologies/agents – Empire and the multitude. Without ontological lack, resistance (like oppression) itself becomes “a political subject” (2000: 394), “a singularity that establishes a new place in the nonplace of Empire” (2000: 395), and “the real ontological referent of philosophy” (and,
Table 7.2 Modernism vs. postmodernism Modernism Time Space Progressive Bounded Postmodernism Non-progressive Unbounded



I would add, of history; 2000: 48). The multitude becomes a kind of (communist) militant fighting not for phony justice (as Empire does) but for real justice. As Hardt and Negri put it, “This militancy makes resistance into counterpower and makes rebellion into a project of love” (2000: 413; italics in the original). “This,” they conclude, “is the irrepressible lightness and joy of being communist” (2000: 413; italics in the original).

If ever there were a character who reveled in the joy of resistance and turned rebellion into a project of love, it is Leonard Shelby. We meet Leonard in the opening shot of Christopher Nolan’s 2000 film Memento (based on the short story Memento Mori by his brother Jonathan Nolan). Memento opens to the sound of a simple note followed by others quietly rippling in the background. Credits fade in and out. As the title appears, the music changes to an ominous chord. Fade in to a close up of a hand holding a Polaroid picture. The photo vividly shows a blue-jacketed torso face-down among bloodsoaked white tiles. We see the photo from the point of view of the person holding it. As the camera lingers on the photo, its sharpness fades. The hand shakes the Polaroid. The picture fades some more. This action is repeated until the photo fades to white.

Plate 7.1 Faded Polaroid of a dead body.
Courtesy of Newmarket Capital Group and Summit. Supplied by The Ronald Grant Archive.



The man holding the photo reaches inside his jacket for his camera and places the photo where the film exits the machine. We hear mechanical sounds as the Polaroid camera sucks up the photo, then flashes. Cut to a close-up of the photographer’s blood-splattered face. He is a white male in his thirties. Cut to quick montage close-ups of what he sees – blood running up the tiles, a bullet shell, blood-splashed glasses, the head of the man in the blue jacket, face down. Cut back to the photographer standing above the dead body. A gun leaps into his outstretched hand. He kneels down. The shell dances on the tiles, the bloodied glasses jump onto the dead man’s face, the dead man’s head sucks up its spilt blood. As the shell flies into the sparking gun, the victim – a middle-aged white male with a mustache – turns to face the gunman, screaming. We cannot make out what the victim says. The sound is “wrong.” All the sounds are wrong, except for the music. For they, like the visuals in this opening sequence, are played backwards. Cut to a black and white extreme close-up of the photographer/gunman’s face in profile. As the camera moves up his face, we hear his thoughts in calm voice-over. “So where are you? You’re in some motel room. You wake up and you’re in some motel room.” The camera confirms this, showing us a room key, a closet, the gunman sitting on a bed, all in black and white. He continues, “It feels like maybe the first time you’ve been here, but perhaps you’ve been there a week, three months. It’s kinda hard to say. I don’t know. It’s just an anonymous room.” Cut to a color Polaroid of a smiling mustached white male in a blue jacket. Beneath his photo is the word “Teddy” and some numbers. The photo rests on a small counter. A hand from behind the counter turns the photo toward the gunman. “This guy,” he says to the gunman, tapping the photo with his finger, “he’s here alright.” The gunman turns around to see Teddy entering the hotel lobby. Teddy sees the gunman and greets him with a friendly, “Lenny.” Lenny/Leonard (dressed as he was in the opening color sequence) drives Teddy to an abandoned building out of town. In their conversation, it is revealed that Leonard has an as-yet-unexplained disability and that he is playing detective (Teddy playfully calls him “Sherlock”). All sorts of small things are unexplained in this scene, like why Leonard has two bloody scratches on his face (scratches he did not have in the previous black and white sequence. Inside the building, Leonard consults his Polaroid photo of Teddy, turning it over to reveal the words, “Don’t believe his lies. He is the one. Kill him.” In voiceover, we hear Leonard’s thoughts, “I’ve finally found him. How long have I been looking?” Leonard jumps Teddy, dragging him into a white tiled area of the building. He tells Teddy to beg his wife’s forgiveness before he kills him. Teddy protests. Teddy: Leonard, you don’t know what’s going on. You don’t even know my name. Leonard: Teddy. Teddy: That’s cause you read it off a fucking picture. You don’t know who you are. Leonard: I’m Leonard Shelby, I’m from San Francisco . . . Teddy: That’s who you were, that’s not what you’ve become. Leonard: Shut your mouth! Teddy: You wanna know, Lenny. Come on . . . Let’s go down to the basement. . . . Then you’ll know who you really are.



Leonard looks confused, fearful. He takes aim at Teddy’s face. At this moment, the film has arrived at the final shot of the first color sequence. Teddy turns away and screams, “No,” as Leonard shoots him in the head. Cut to black. Fade into black and white sequence. Leonard is sitting on his motel bed, wearing boxers and a plaid shirt, just as in the previous black and white sequence. In his voice-over, we hear the start of a long explanation, an explanation that begins where the last black and white scene finished. Leonard [voice-over]: It’s just an anonymous room. . . . You know, you know who you are, and you know kinda all about yourself. But just for day to day stuff, notes are really useful. [Close-up of a tattoo on Leonard’s hand that reads, “Remember Sammy Jankis.”] Leonard [voice over]: Sammy Jankis had the same problem. He really had no system. He wrote himself a ridiculous amount of notes but he’d get them all mixed up. You really do need a system if you’re gonna make it work. Quick fade to color scene in which Leonard is writing on the back of a Polaroid, “He is the one. Kill him.” The scene continues . . . This is how Memento opens. Needless to say, this is an unusual opening. First, unlike other films we’ve discussed, Memento’s opening has no clear ending (and, as we will discover, no clear beginning either). As I have related it here, it is composed of four sequences and the beginning of a fifth, three in color and two in black and white. My selection of four plus sequences is arbitrary. I could have selected maybe three instead. But selecting just one would have been problematic. For example, if I had selected just the first color sequence – what would traditionally be regarded as an opening sequence – we wouldn’t have enough information to go on to grasp what we need to know to analyze the film. This is because, in Memento, the ordering of sequences is as important as the content of sequences. Which leads us to the second difference between this film’s and other films’ openings. Opening sequences usually tell an audience everything they need to know to understand a film. For example, they introduce central themes and tensions, if not also central characters. Memento does some of this. It does introduce us to Leonard and Teddy. It does suggest that Leonard has a disability (although we don’t know what this is). And it does give us a murder to solve. But it does all of this with a twist. Instead of standing as a clarifying distillation of codes that we can revisit in our minds to make sense of the action as it unfolds, Memento’s opening sequence raises more questions than it answers. Who is Leonard Shelby? Who is Teddy? Why did Leonard kill Teddy? And why did Leonard photograph Teddy once he killed him? As such, Memento is a detective film. It isn’t a classic “whodunit” (we know Leonard did it) but a complex “why did he do it?”; and it is the audience who wants to know why he did it. The audience is Memento’s off-screen detective. The audience is trying to make sense of events as they unfold from the first color sequence. This



is one of the things that makes Memento so compelling. We have to think throughout this film. But, typically, we don’t have to think alone. As in any detective film, the audience gets to puzzle through the story with the film’s on-screen detective. Memento’s detective is Leonard, who Teddy refers to as “Sherlock” in the second color sequence. Since the film’s detective is the very guy who committed the murder, the audience presumes that Leonard knows why he murdered Teddy. All it has to do is hang around for Leonard to explain things to them. And explain Leonard does. Indeed, this is what happens in the black and white sequences. First in voice-over and later in a long conversation to an anonymous telephone caller, Leonard answers the audience’s questions about the back story, providing Leonard’s motivation for murder. As Leonard tells it, “John G.” raped and murdered his wife and, in the process, injured Leonard. When Leonard finds John G., he will kill him. From the outset, then, the audience immediately identifies with and then replies on Leonard. It identifies with Leonard as a detective because the audience is itself in the position of detective. And it relies on Leonard as the seemingly allknowing narrator of the story who will help the audience solve its puzzle. For the audience, then, Leonard’s sense of the world is the sense it most cares about. Having a detective narrator who the audience identifies with and replies on is a typical ploy in what is called the film noir genre. But, as Matt Zoller Seitz points out, “Memento is built around an amusing reversal of convention: where the typical film noir hero is a talkative wiseacre who thinks he knows more than he does, Leonard is a quiet cipher who knows he understands very little and is desperate to learn more” (2001). This is because, as Leonard explains to everyone he meets, he has a condition that makes him unable to make new memories. As he tells a motel clerk, Leonard: I have no short-term memory. I know who I am and all about myself, but since my injury I can’t make any new memories. Everything fades. Clerk: That must suck. It’s all . . . backwards. Well, like . . . you gotta pretty good idea of what you’re gonna do next, but no idea what you just did. [laughs] I’m the exact opposite. And, indeed, most people are. Most people depend on their ability to make new memories in order to conduct their lives in a meaningful way. But Leonard is not most people. Leonard’s handicap does not prevent him from knowing who he was – he was Leonard Shelby from San Francisco who, he explains later, used to be an insurance investigator. But Leonard’s handicap does prevent him from knowing who he is – a man who not only wants to kill “John G.” but is a multiple murderer. Leonard has killed “John G.” over and over and over because each time he kills “John G.,” the memory of this act fades like a Polaroid picture developing in reverse. Leonard, then, is a sort of postmodern serial killer who doesn’t know he is killing serially because his own life has no seriality. Leonard lives outside sequential historical time, in a time that seems to be eternal. To the extent that Leonard experiences time, he does so “backwards.” He has moments when he knows what he is going to do next, but he cannot hold onto the memories of what he has done since his injury.



Leonard’s temporality is the film’s temporality. The film takes place outside historical time, in a seemingly eternal post-history, the time of Hardt and Negri’s Empire. Time is post-historical because it is non-progressive. For Hardt and Negri (as for Leonard), this is because time has been postmodernized. Contingency rather than progress best explains temporal relationships. Still, progress may be possible, but it is not necessarily going to occur. The film identifies with Leonard’s perspective and so tells its story just as Leonard experiences it – backwards. The first color sequence is completely backwards, playing the action and all the sound apart from the music in reverse. Indeed, Memento’s opening shot shows the audience exactly how Leonard’s memory works, for it is of a just-developed Polaroid, fading. Thereafter, the temporality of each color sequence is internally forward (showing events from beginning to end within any one sequence) but sequentially backward (showing us the last color sequence at the beginning of the film and the first at the end of the film). Not only does the film identify with Leonard’s sense of time. It also identifies with Leonard’s sense of space. Leonard could not live in a more deterritorialized space. Place has little relevance in Memento. The film looks as though it takes place in California, but this is just a guess. And it doesn’t matter. The town doesn’t matter. The motel doesn’t matter. Even the abandoned building where Leonard murders Teddy doesn’t matter. The only place that does matter is the space of Leonard himself. He is the space that we follow throughout the film. But Leonard is as unbounded as the postmodern landscape he occupies, if not more so. Put differently, the physical limits of Leonard’s body do little to ground him as a single person, a coherent agent/ontology, a knowable place. The primary question raised by the film is not “Why did Leonard kill Teddy?” but “Who is Leonard Shelby, really?” As the film goes on, this question seems to be less and less reliably answered, especially by Leonard himself. So this is how the film makes sense of the world. The world is the postmodern temporal and spatial landscape that Hardt and Negri associate with Empire. This space is postmodern because the dual certainties of progress through time and boundedness in space are suspended, even at the most personal level of the individual (see Box 7.3). What it typical and what is deviant in this postmodern world of Memento? What is typical is for people to be able to make new memories and, in so doing, to hold onto a sense of themselves and thereby live their lives “forward” not “backward.” Living “forward” at least opens up the possibility of temporal progress, even though it does not guarantee it. What is deviant is for someone to be unable to make

Box 7.3 How Memento makes sense of the world
Memento’s postmodern world is uncertain: • • temporally because there is no guaranteed progress through time; and spatially because everything (even individuals) is unbounded


(NEO)MARXISM Table 7.3 What is typical and deviant in the world of Memento? Typical Time moves forward because people make new memories as they pass through time. This makes temporal progress possible and allows individuals to hold onto their senses of self Deviant Time moves backward because people cannot make new memories as they pass through time. This makes temporal progress impossible and means individuals have to constantly re-create their senses of self

new memories and, therefore, have to re-create their sense of self and “progress” constantly. Such a person (Leonard) experiences time backwards, knowing what he is about to do but not knowing what he just did (see Table 7.3). It is only by supplementing his life with (1) an ordered and disciplined system of habit and conditioning; and (2) a motive to make it all work that Leonard is able to drag himself through his meaningless present. It is only, in other words, by applying a Foucauldian system of biopower to himself that Leonard passes himself off (to himself) as a functioning agent/ontology. Leonard’s system for reordering his world is postmodern not just because it relies on biopower but also because it is an informationalized world. Leonard uses mementos – instant photography, notes, conceptual maps, files – to orient himself. But Leonard’s most important messages are not tucked into his pockets or stuck on walls. They are the tattoos pricked out on his skin. Having become “a walking text” (Hoberman, 2001), Leonard is himself a memento – a collection of scraps from the recent past, a collage of confused meanings he forgets he has and, on each (re)discovery of them, desperately tries to decode and (re)assemble. Leonard’s motive for reordering his world is a horrible injustice. As he tells it, this injustice is the rape and murder of his wife by John G., one of two men who broke into the family home, killed Leonard’s wife, and struck Leonard on the head (thus leading to his short-term memory loss). That is the last thing he remembers, his wife – dying. Up Leonard’s arm, onto his torso and thigh are tattooed “the facts” about John G. – white, male, drug dealer, and so on. Across his upper chest are the words, “John G. raped and killed my wife.’ It is this character – a vengeful “detective” who admits that the truth about his condition is that he doesn’t know anything – who guides the equally confused audience through the story. Put differently, the character who epitomizes ontological lack is the very character to whom the audience turns for its orientation. This gives Memento its drive, but also its humor. For even Leonard knows he is the “most unreliable of unreliable narrators” (Independent Focus, 2000). As he tells his unknown caller, “You don’t believe someone with this condition.” So why would the audience be gullible enough to believe Leonard? Why would the audience identify with and even trust a character as confused as Leonard to sort out their own confusion? The answer lies in another structural feature the film replies on, the splicing of black and white sequences with color sequences. Marking sequences with different colorings divides a filmic world into two – one imaginary and unreliable and the other real and reliable. Conventionally, it is the color world



that is fantastical (not factual) and the black and white world that is real and reliable (just the facts). Memento seems to follow this convention. As we already know, the color sequences in Memento are confusing. Even though they constitute a complete story which answers the question, Why did Leonard kill Teddy?, these sequences are not presented intelligibly to the audience. They do not seem to be composed of a comprehensible, structured narrative because they mirror Leonard’s “memory” by running backwards. What they represent is the postmodern world in which Leonard lives and acts but which is beyond his ability to understand rationally, at least as a series of acts. And yet it is Leonard’s understanding of events that compels the action in the color sequences. It is in these sequences that our (and Leonard’s) puzzle is introduced, is explored, and (we initially believe) will be solved. But Leonard’s “understanding” of his actions in the color sequences is grounded in his motivational fantasy. The color sequences are the sequences in which Leonard either acts on or is compelled to act on his fantasy to kill John G. Most audience members intuitively get this. They know they don’t understand what is going on in the color sequences, and they know Leonard doesn’t know what is going on in them either, apart from moment to moment or, really, memento to memento. So the color sequences do make the audience identify with Leonard as detectives, asking “what is going on?” and “who is Leonard, really?” But they do not make the audience rely on Leonard to be their all-knowing narrator because, clearly, Leonard doesn’t have much of a clue. It is in the black and white sequences that Leonard appears to have a clue, indeed, to have most of the clues. Unlike the color sequences that run backwards, all the black and white sequences run forward. They form an absorbing narrative in which Leonard not only situates himself physically and mentally, but also situates the audience in relation to what’s going on in the color sequences. In these sequences, Leonard is generally in control. Even though he suffers from short-term memory loss and is forever asking questions (“Where am I?”), he has the ability to answer them persuasively based on the evidence before him (“I’m in a motel room.”). As such, these sequences are not part of the puzzle; they appear to be what we need to know to solve the puzzle. What Leonard seems to offer is a coherent past-to-present narrative of his old memories – memories of his wife, of her rape and murder, of having been an insurance investigator – that took place in historical time (past to present) and in real places (Leonard’s house, San Francisco). The audience devours these sequences as if they were reliable information because they are so comprehensible in contrast to the color sequences. Unlike the color sequences, the black and white sequences make sense because of three things – (1) Leonard’s certainty about “facts” and “past memories”; (2) a progressive, modernist narrative; and (3) a bounded, modern sense of space (with real places like San Francisco and especially the space of Leonard himself functioning as a meaningful [because meaning-making] agent). The primary device Leonard uses in the black and white sequences to guide the audience through the color sequences and to orient himself through his troublesome life is his narration of the story of Sammy Jankis. Sammy, Leonard tells us, also suffered from short-term memory loss. As the insurance investigator assigned to Sammy’s case, it was Leonard’s job to investigate Sammy’s claim.



Was Sammy’s illness genuine? And, if so, was it caused by a physical injury or did it have a psychological cause? As Leonard tells the story, the time he spent with Sammy and his wife raised questions for him about Sammy’s condition. For example, Sammy could carry out complex tasks like giving his wife her insulin injections because he had learned these skills prior to the onset of his condition. But Sammy could not make any new memories. And, crucially for Leonard, Sammy could not even use routine and conditioning to help him reorder his new life. Physically, patients with short-term memory loss can learn new behaviors, relying on instinct rather than memory (which is a wholly different part of the brain). When Sammy failed the instinct-based tests Leonard ordered, Leonard concluded that Sammy’s condition was mental and not physical. Physically, Sammy had the ability to create new memories. Psychologically, he did not. Sammy’s wife interpreted Leonard’s judgment about Sammy to mean that Sammy was faking his condition. So she devised her own test. As before, when she needed her insulin injection, she said to Sammy (who she knew without doubt loved her and would never harm her), “Sammy, it’s time for my shot.” And, as before, Sammy rose from his chair, assembled the medication, and gave his wife her injection. A few minutes after receiving her injection, Sammy’s wife again told her husband, “Sammy, it’s time for my shot,” and again, without seeming to know he had just injected her, Sammy went through the same routine and injected his wife. Again she told Sammy, “It’s time for my shot,” and a third time, Sammy injected her. This time she went into a diabetic comma and died. Sammy, discovering his comatose wife, could not explain what had happened. Sammy passed this test – it showed he wasn’t faking his condition – but at the cost of his wife’s life. Throughout Memento, Leonard implores himself to remember Sammy Jankis. Indeed, “Remember Sammy Jankis” is the only tattoo on Leonard’s body that is not concealed by his clothing. It is this tattoo that leads Leonard to all his other tattoos. And just as Leonard tells everyone over and over about his condition, he explains his condition to them in relation to his account of Sammy Jankis. What matters to Leonard is not primarily the similarities between himself and Sammy – they both suffer from short-term memory loss – but their differences. Sammy’s condition was psychological; Leonard’s is physical. For while Sammy was not able to use instinct to create new behaviors, Leonard is. “Routine and discipline make my life possible,” he tells his nameless caller. And, it appears that the reason why Sammy could not will himself to behave differently through instinct, routine, and self-discipline is, as Leonard puts it, “He didn’t have a reason to make it work. Me, yeah, I got a reason.” Leonard’s reason is to kill John G. So what we have here are two characters who suffer from ontological lack – Sammy Jankis and Leonard Shelby. Sammy ends up institutionalized because he has no system and, most importantly, no motivation to overcome his ontological lack – to function as a whole person. Leonard, on the other hand, does have a system (mementos) and a motivation (John G.). Indeed, the way Leonard “overcomes” his ontological lack is precisely the same way that Hardt and Negri claim that the multitude overcomes its ontological lack. He constructs an enemy – John G. Being against his enemy is what coheres Leonard into a functioning ontology/agent. We know this both from Leonard’s mementos and from his voice-overs. As we already know, Leonard has tattooed across his torso, “John G. raped and killed my



Plate 7.2 Tattooed Leonardo.
Courtesy of Newmarket Capital Group and Summit. Supplied by The Ronald Grant Archive.

wife.” What is interesting about this tattoo is that, unlike all the others, it is inscribed in backward lettering that can only be deciphered when read in a mirror. Why is this tattoo backwards? It is this tattoo more than any other that reminds Leonard who he is because it reminds him who his enemy is. As Leonard explains in a voiceover near the end of the film, “We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I’m no different.” By informationally reordering their worlds, both Leonard and the multitude find themselves opposed to an enemy, and it is this enemy who “calls them into being.” The enemy for Leonard, of course, is John G. And the enemy for the multitude is Empire. Without John G. as a coherently constructed ontology who can be opposed, Leonard would not know who he is or what to do. His life would be as aimless and meaningless as that of Sammy Jankis. And without Empire as a coherently constructed ontology that can be opposed, so, too would the resistances of the multitude seem to be aimless and meaningless (at least from the perspective of the modernist narrative of (neo)Marxism). What makes Leonard’s myth about himself function – that he is on a romantic quest to secure justice for his wife – is precisely the same thing that makes the multitude’s romantic quest to secure global justice possible. It is that they have each (with a little help from their friends) constructed an enemy. Teddy, Natalie (the film’s femme fatale), and who knows who else help Leonard construct John G., and Hardt and Negri help the multitude construct Empire. Through the informational reordering of their worlds, then, both Leonard and the multitude seem to have achieved one of Hardt and Negri’s maxims. Speaking



specifically about truth commissions (but, I would argue, capturing their general attitude toward truth in Empire), Hardt and Negri write, “Truth will not make us free, but taking control of the production of truth will” (2000: 156). The truth Leonard tells himself is that John G. exists. The truth the multitude tells itself is that Empire exists. In both cases, truth is what constructs these fractured ontologies into coherent agents and also liberates them by turning them into powerful forces of resistance. But is this “the truth?” Or is this just what Leonard and the multitude want to believe is true?

Truth, ontology, and desire
When Memento’s backward color sequences and forward black and white sequences catch up with one another in the film’s climax, answers emerge that put all truths in question. The color sequences indeed do answer the question “why did Leonard kill Teddy?” The reason that the audience suspects is, of course, that Teddy is really John G. And he is. His name is John Gammell. Only his mother calls him Teddy. And Teddy is Leonard’s John G. He is the man Leonard has been looking for throughout the color sequences. So Leonard is right when he tells himself in voiceover just before he kills Teddy, “I finally found him.” But there is a scary twist to Memento. What the color sequences also reveal is that Teddy is Leonard’s John G. because Leonard willfully constructed him as such. Leonard lied to himself in order to turn this John G. (Teddy) into his John G. Why? Because Teddy emerges as an alternative narrative voice in the film, a voice that throws everything Leonard believes into doubt. There are two things that Leonard firmly believes throughout the film – two things that allow Leonard to be Leonard. The first is that John G. raped and murdered his wife, and Leonard has to give his wife justice by killing John G. The second is that Leonard Shelby and Sammy Jankis are distinct individuals. Put differently, Leonard believe he knows who his enemy is and who he is. But when the dying Jimmy Grantz (the John G. Leonard kills at the end of the forward-playing black and white sequences) calls Leonard “Sammy” and Teddy explains this to Leonard, the duel certainties Leonard relies on to be Leonard start to unravel. Leonard [to Teddy, about Jimmy Grantz]: He knew about Sammy. Why would I tell him about Sammy? Teddy: You tell everyone about Sammy. . . . Great story. Gets better every time you tell it. So you lie to yourself to be happy. Nothing wrong with that – we all do. Who cares if there’s a few little things you’d rather not remember? Leonard: What the fuck are you talking about? Teddy: I dunno . . . your wife surviving the assault . . . her not believing about your condition . . . the doubt tearing her up inside . . . the insulin. Leonard: That’s Sammy, not me! I told you about Sammy . . . Teddy: Like you’ve told yourself. Over and over. Conditioning yourself to believe. “Learning through repetition.” Leonard: Sammy let his wife kill herself! Sammy ended up in an institution!



[Cut to Sammy sitting in an institution, then film splices in one or two frames of Leonard as Sammy, sitting in the same chair in the same institution.] Leonard: . . . Sammy’s wife came to me and . . . Teddy: Sammy didn’t have a wife. It was your wife who had diabetes. [Cut to Leonard remembering giving his wife an insulin injection. Cut to Leonard shaking his head to reorder the memory. Cut back to the same scene, with Leonard giving his wife the injection, only this time Leonard is playfully pinching his wife with his fingers rather than poking her with a needle.] Leonard: She wasn’t diabetic. You think I don’t know my own wife? . . . Teddy: I guess I can only make you believe the things you want to be true, huh? Like ol’ Jimmy down there. [Teddy goes on to explain to Leonard that he helped Leonard kill the real John G. over a year ago, but even though Leonard has the Polaroid picture of this killing, he can’t remember it. And so Teddy finds him more and more John G.s to kill, to keep him happy. Jimmy Grantz was one of Leonard’s many John G.s.] Teddy: . . . I gave you a reason to live and you were more than happy to help. You lie to yourself! You don’t want the truth. . . . So you make up your own truth. [It is at this point that Leonard distracts Teddy long enough to write on the back of Teddy’s photo, “Don’t believe his lies” and writes another “fact” down to be tattooed onto his body – “Fact 6: Car License Number” – and then he copies the number from Teddy’s license plate onto his “fact sheet.”] Leonard [in voice-over]: You’re a John G.? Fine, then you can be my John G. Do I lie to make myself happy? In your case, Teddy . . . yes, I will. Of course, Leonard doesn’t remember doing any of this. He doesn’t remember lying to himself about John G., about Teddy, about Sammy, or certainly about himself. And so Leonard begins his new quest to find and kill John G., not knowing that Teddy is his John G. As the temporal timelines of the black and white and color sequences converge, it is not only Leonard’s “truths” that unravel but the audience’s. For, against everyone’s advice, the audience believed Leonard and believed in Leonard. Indeed, the film’s director encouraged them to, by dividing the film into black and white sequences which normally would convey reliable information and color sequences which normally would not. What the audience learns at the film’s climax is that they can rely on nothing that Leonard has told them, except that no one believes someone with his disability. The black and white sequences aren’t a narrative of “the truth” but a narrative of the truth as Leonard wishes it to be. It is a truth that allows Leonard to be Leonard – a coherent, functioning ontology/agent in the fluid, foundationless world he occupies. Leonard, then, is an ontology/agent caught somewhere between truth and desire. He desires to be a coherent agent. But the truth is more likely that he is fractured and fragmented. For, if we believe Teddy and the dying Jimmy Grantz, Leonard is at least partly Sammy, too. And, indeed, the director – with his cross-



splicing of Leonard into Sammy – suggests to the audience that Teddy and Jimmy got this right. This doesn’t mean Teddy is any more of a reliable narrator than Leonard is, though. For Teddy keeps changing his story. One minute he is a cop, another a snitch, another a drug dealer. For all we know, he really could be the original John G. (but, then again, so could Leonard if it is true that he killed his wife). So the black and white sequences do not explain the color sequences. If anything, the color sequences explain the black and white sequences. They explain that we cannot trust all-knowing narrators because their will to be all-knowing is based on desire and not (exclusively) truth. We cannot trust Leonard because he lies to himself to be happy. We cannot trust Teddy because he lies to Leonard. And we cannot even trust the film’s director because he misled us about the existence of a reliable narrator. However much we may want them, then, Memento offers us no reliable narrators and no reliable truths. What it does offer us is something more important. It offers us an explanation of how something appears to be true. And, in so doing, it tells us how Hardt and Negri’s myth “Empire is the new world order” appears to be true. In the first instance, the stories told in both Memento and Empire appear to be true because their narrators so desperately need them to be true, because “desire” wins out over “truth” in their ontological tales. In Memento, Leonard tells a tale of a tragic injustice – the rape and murder of his wife – that he needs to make right by killing his wife’s assailant. So Leonard constructs an enemy, John G., who he repeatedly tracks and kills. But Leonard’s story is not just the story of the loss of his wife. It is also the story of the loss of himself and the loss of his reason to exist. For, as Leonard tells it, John G. not only took Leonard’s wife from him, he took Leonard away from himself. By injuring Leonard so he could no longer make short-term memories, Leonard ceased to function as a coherent identity who could make meaning and progress in history. John G. gives meaning to Leonard’s life as the enemy he must bring to justice. It is John G. who calls Leonard into existence, who fulfills Leonard’s desire to be a coherent ontology/agent. In Empire, it is Hardt and Negri who tell a tale of injustice – the injustice of Empire as a new world order that oppresses the multitude. And so they construct Empire as the enemy of the multitude. But, as in Leonard’s story, Hardt and Negri’s story is not just about the loss of global justice. It is also about the loss of the multitude itself as the maker of meaning in contemporary global political life. And if the multitude doesn’t make meaning, then resistance (and, indeed, communism itself) is not meaningful in this post-historical era. And, of course, here is the irony – if communism isn’t meaningful, then surely communist intellectuals like Hardt and Negri aren’t meaningful either. In losing the resistive potential of the multitude, Hardt and Negri lose themselves. They cease to be making meaning and potential progress through contemporary history. By writing Empire – a terribly scattered, fractured, contradictory set of propositions and ideas – into “being,” Hardt and Negri not only call the multitude into being. They call themselves into being. They, in other words, fulfill their desires to be relevant communist intellectuals.



What we see here, then, is that Leonard’s desire to be a coherent ontology/ agent for himself and his strategy for becoming such an identity are strikingly similar to those of Hardt and Negri. Both construct an enemy. And this enemy is not only their reason to exist. It is what makes their very existence as relevant historical figures possible. But if Leonard’s ontology/agency and Hardt and Negri’s ontology/agency are really grounded in their desire to be (relevant) rather than the truth of their being (relevant), then why do they appear to be true? How is it that their stories are so compelling, even a story told by such an unreliable narrator as Leonard? The answer to this question is the very theme of Memento. It has to do with how memory functions. What Memento tells us is that we do not always remember things as they really are but rather as we wish they were. Leonard remembers John G. killing his wife, not himself killing his wife. He remembers Sammy Jankis as an aimless, psychologically damaged, baffled man whose wife could not accept him, not himself as such a man. And when Leonard’s memory is not enough to preserve the consistence of his story (and of himself), he lies to himself to be happy. I would not make the claim that there is any self-aware lying going on in Empire. But I would make the claim that Hardt and Negri remember things selectively for the same reason Leonard does – to preserve their relevance. Hardt and Negri’s investigations, like those of Leonard, lead them to “discover” Empire as a coherent ontology that can be opposed. But as they describe it, Hardt and Negri’s Empire might be just as incoherent and multiple as Leonard’s John G. Empire seems to be a moving and multiple target, one that counter-Empire is unlikely to succeed in overthrowing for some time, if ever. This means that the multitude, having been called into being by Empire, will exist as a relevant counter-formation for a long time, thereby insuring Hardt and Negri’s continued relevance. What makes Hardt and Negri’s construction of an enemy into a coherent tale function is, just as in Leonard’s case, their selective memory of anything that might contradiction this tale. For Leonard, Sammy Jankis is the figure that threatens to make his story unravel. For Hardt and Negri, it is postmodernists. Postmodernists didn’t just pose the problem of ontology – the idea that agents are fragmented, fluid, and foundationless. They additionally argued two things: (1) that the problem of ontology/agency is not one that can be solved, however much we might desire to solve it; and (2) that the problem of ontology/agency does not need to be solved. We can still have meaningful political resistance in the absence of the kind of coherence modernist narratives promise. Indeed, political resistance might make more sense if we appreciate its as fractured rather than as singular. In Empire, Hardt and Negri selectively recall what postmodernists have to say. They borrow Foucault’s notion of biopower to describe contemporary global life as an international disciplinary order, and they read Deleuze and Guattari’s idea of the nomad onto Empire to emphasize its decentered, deterritorialized character. But they (willfully?) forget that postmodernists never claim that “the problem of ontology” is a problem rather than merely the postmodern condition. They forget how postmodernists describe how political resistance takes place in a postmodern world – through fragmented, foundationless, fluid struggles against fragmented, foundationless, fluid sights of power. What this means is that postmodernists would



never say they contributed anything to Hardt and Negri’s story about Empire and the multitude because, they would argue, “Empire” and “the multitude” don’t exist as the coherent ontologies/agents that Hardt and Negri describe and they needn’t exist as such in order for meaningful global resistances to objectionable uses of power to take place. This is what must go without saying in order for Hardt and Negri’s myth “Empire is the new world order” to appear to be true. These aspects of postmodernism are things that Hardt and Negri must not remember. For if they remembered them, the very task Hardt and Negri set for themselves and are celebrated for – to make resistance meaningful in our contemporary, postmodern world – would be irrelevant because, as postmodernists tell the story, resistance is already relevant. The story postmodernism has to tell about global politics, then, is as destabilizing to Hardt and Negri’s claim to be relevant contemporary intellectuals as the story Sammy Jankis has to tell is destabilizing to Leonard Shelby. It is only by either forgetting what postmodernism and Sammy have to say or by reordering the information forthcoming from the spaces of postmodernism and Sammy that Hardt and Negri’s and Leonard’s stories appear to be true. In fairness to Hardt and Negri (and to Leonard), we all do this. We all remember things selectively and will ourselves to forget what we don’t want to know. We all long to be historically relevant, even after our historical tasks (like Leonard’s murder of John G. or Marx’s critique of capital) have already been achieved. All ontologies/agents are, in other words, caught somewhere between “truth” and “desire.” But the warning of Memento is that this makes us into unreliable narrators. Leonard is not an unreliable narrator (just) because he suffers from shortterm memory loss. He is an unreliable narrator because he refuses to examine all the evidence, specifically the evidence about himself. It is because this is precisely what Teddy implores him to do that Teddy must die. Similarly, Hardt and Negri’s narration of Empire and the multitude seems unreliable because it refuses to entertain all the evidence. In particular, it refuses to investigate the two further claims postmodernism makes about contemporary ontologies and contemporary resistance – that while some singular sense of ontology is impossible, this does not mean that fractured, fragmented, fluid resistances are meaningless. This is precisely what postmodernists implore Hardt and Negri to consider and why they remain at political odds with (neo)Marxists. Overall, then, a willful not remembering and not knowing is indeed useful for constructing a coherent sense of self, for overcoming the loss of the (modern) subject. But in “overcoming” this loss, something else is lost. What is lost is the ability to critically reflect about selves. In Leonard’s case, this means he cannot investigate himself and the new “ethical order” he produced. In Hardt and Negri’s case, this means they cannot (further) investigate the fragmentation, fluidity, and foundationlessness of Empire and the multitude, and of the counter-“ethical-order” the multitude is producing. For example, by insisting on the ontological singularity of the multitude, Hardt and Negri make it impossible to further investigate the political and moral uniqueness of resistance movements like those in Seattle, Chiapas, and the Intifada. Furthermore, if the multitude is a singular ontology that resists Empire and if (as



Hardt and Negri imply) all resistance to Empire is good, then how are we to understand resistances to Empire that even many on the left would disavow? How, in particular, are we to understand the events of September 11? Was this a case of counter-Empire resisting Empire? Or is it correct to think of these events as terrorism? These questions are beyond the scope of Empire because they are outside the bounds of the sort of critical self-reflection that would make Hardt and Negri more reliable narrators. Yet only a year after Empire’s publication, these were the very questions that dominated the discussions of international politics. And so, not surprisingly, the importance of Empire (and Empire) faded from relevance for many as the first commercial jet crashed into the World Trade Center. The myth “Empire is the new world order” seemed to offer too little by way of explanation of contemporary international events, either politically or ethically. And so, a new myth to describe this next new world order emerged – a myth that described a world ordered by “the war on terror.”

Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 Imperial IR
Hardt and Negri’s Empire did not only introduce the myth “Empire is the new world order” into IR theory. It reignited debates about imperialism, the imperial, and the quasi-imperial in international politics. Does imperialism (still) exist? If so, in what form? What does this mean for states, sovereignty, and international order? Does Hardt and Negri’s description of Empire capture what the imperial now looks like in international politics? If so, how? If not, why not? These (among other issues) are taken up in a series of essays published in Millennium. The debate is kicked off by Tarak Barkawi and Mark Laffey and responded to in the next issue by three theorists with very different perspectives on international politics – a Marxist, a social theorist, and a postmodernist.

Suggested reading
Tarak Barkawi and Mark Laffey (2002) “Retrieving the Imperial: Empire and International Relations,” Millennium 31(1): 109–27. Alex Callinicos (2002) “The Actuality of Imperialism,” Millennium 31(2): 319–26. Martin Shaw (2002) “Post-Imperial and Quasi-Imperial: State and Empire in the Global Era,” Millennium 31(2): 327–36. R.B.J. Walker (2002) “On the Immanence/Imminence of Empire,” Millennium 31(2): 337–45.



Topic 2 Memory in IR
That memory and forgetting are political acts is not news to many social theorists. But actually investigating how memory and forgetting help us to construct orders – be these individual, national, or international – is rather new in IR theory. A lot of the work on memory in IR theory focuses on how to theorize trauma and how to understand and explain particular traumas in international politics. And, of course, in the aftermath of September 11, how memory and forgetting about the events of that day participate in the construction of subjectivities from states to global networks has been much discussed. Paul Antze and Michael Lambek’s edited volume is a good place to start reading about memory and trauma in the wider context of culture and society. Jenny Edkin’s work brings these discussions to IR theory, not by working through classical texts on memory but by applying her analysis to specific case studies like Vietnam, the Holocaust, Kosovo, and of course September 11. Maja Zehfuss’s essay “Forget September 11” and Cynthia Weber’s essay “Flying Planes Can Be Dangerous” both ponder official Bush administration memories of September 11 and their consequences.

Suggested reading
Paul Antze and Michael Lambek (eds) (1996) Tense Past: Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory. New York: Routledge. Jenny Edkins (2003) Trauma and the Memory of Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cynthia Weber (2002) “Flying Planes Can Be Dangerous,” Millennium 31(1): 129–47. Maja Zehfuss (2003) “Forget September 11,” Third World Quarterly 24(3): 513–28.




Modernization and development theory
Is there a clash of civilizations?

What does the myth say? East is East Identity, desire, and culture Suggestions for further thinking Postscript

157 163 172 174 175



And so the world changed, again. On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four passenger jet-airliners and flew three of them into targets in New York City and Washington, DC – one each into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon. The fourth airliner (which some believed was targeting the White House) crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Suddenly, US scholars and practitioners of international politics were again caught out by events. Hardt and Negri (Chapter 7) had indeed described the new world order as conflictual, but not in terms that were meaningful to most after September 11. And scholars and practitioners who had celebrated the end of ideology, the end of history, and the benevolent spread of Western (usually US) culture found themselves urgently returning to ideology and culture, albeit very differently. Liberalism, it seemed, had not won the hearts and minds of all the world’s population. And even though American intellectuals like Francis Fukuyama recognized that liberalism as the ideal form of political and social organization had not yet spread the world over (Chapter 6), he and other triumphalist liberals failed to predict how destabilizing illiberal individuals willing to martyr themselves for what they believed was a higher cause, a greater good, and a purer ideal than anything liberalism had to offer could be when they were unleashed in a direct attack against the mainland of the world’s only remaining superpower. One scholar had, it seemed, provocatively predicted dramatic conflicts between liberal and illiberal forces in a post-Cold War world. This was the American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, in his 1993 essay “The Clash of Civilizations?” Unlike Fukuyama who expressed his vision of the post-Cold War world in terms of ideas, Huntington translated what some might regard as ideological disputes into what he claimed were cultural disputes. Boldly articulating what he claimed would be the “crucial, indeed a central, aspect” of what “global politics is likely to be in the coming years” (1993: 22), Huntington posited his clash of civilizations thesis. It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will be not primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future. (1993: 22) And so they seemed to be on September 11. Whether or not Huntington’s hypothesis accurately described the post-September 11 world, it was to his clash of civilizations thesis that a stunned world turned as it began to make sense of the terrorist attacks on the USA. This does not mean everyone embraced Huntington’s thesis. While US commentators like former Clinton administration Assistant Secretary of State James Rubins immediately translated the September 11 attack into civilizational terms, stating “This was an attack on civilisation. The World Trade Center is the centre of Western civilisation” (Rubins, 2001), cultural theorist Edward Said rejected Huntington’s thesis, referring to it as “the clash of ignorance” (Said, 2001: 1)



Attempting to finesse the category of “civilizations,” President George W. Bush strenuously argued that while it is justified to speak of “civilized” and “uncivilized” people and even states (non-terrorists = civilized; terrorists and their supporters = uncivilized), it is unjustified to make broader generalizations using these terms, especially as they apply to people of different religions or regions (Bush, 2001a and 2001b). Yet whether by endorsement, refutation, or refinement, Huntington’s clash of civilizations thesis had to be engaged. What makes Huntington’s thesis so compelling – whether contextualized through the “war on terror” or considered more generally in terms of global political life – is that it stands as a contemporary response to “the problem of what to do about cultural difference” (Blaney and Inayatullah, 2002: 104). As David Blaney and Naeem Inayatullah explain, Huntington’s problem is also IR’s problem. “Instead of accepting that cultural difference offers, not only problems, but also opportunities, IR theory assumes that difference is debilitating to the purpose of establishing order” (2002: 104). IR “solves” this problem by placing sameness within containable political units – sovereign nation-states – and relegating difference to spaces between them (Walker, 1993). Huntington accepts IR’s move, preserving as he does the centrality of states as “the most powerful actors in world affairs” (1993: 22). But then he supplements IR’s move with his own remapping of IR into larger units of similarity and difference – civilizations (Debrix, 2003). Both IR and Huntington conclude that sameness reduces instability whereas difference produces instability, and that the best way to manage difference is either to assimilate it within the state or to expel it from the state. Grappling with the problem of cultural difference and its production of instability is nothing new for Huntington. He did not suddenly start thinking about this problem, or even the possibility of categorizing the world through a hierarchy of cultural zones in the aftermath of the Cold War (see, e.g., Weiner and Huntington, 1987). Rather, this problem, the concepts Huntington developed to address it, and the solutions/dilemmas he outlined all figure in his work on the modernization and development of states, work that has preoccupied Huntington since the 1960s. The modernization and development tradition emerged during the Cold War as the West’s economic, political, social, and cultural response to the management of former colonial territories. The dilemma facing Western scholars and practitioners of international politics was twofold. First, they hoped to theorize ideas and then implement policies that would transform newly independent colonies into politically developed sovereign nation-states. But these theorists – the bulk of whom were from the USA – were not interested in so-called “Third World states” achieving development according to just any model. Rather, the only acceptable model of development was through liberal processes of politics, economics, and socialization, and the only acceptable model of a fully developed state was a Western liberal capitalist, so-called “First World state.” What this means – and this is the second point – is that the modernization and development tradition was consciously conceived as a Western (and predominately US) alternative to Marxist and (neo)Marxist strategies of development espoused by so-called “Second World states” like the then Soviet Union (see Suggestions for further thinking). As a specifically liberal and specifically US alternative to Soviet-style communism, the modernization and development tradition grounded itself in (among



other things) liberal economic theory and a version of Talcott Parsons’ sociological theory to explain how developing Third World states would naturally evolve into developed First World states. As we saw in Chapter 6, liberal economic theory offers a view of economic relations as naturally harmonious, and in which the distribution of economic prosperity is shared by all, albeit in different degrees. To share in economic benefits and to receive the promised “spillover” effect of legitimate political institutions like liberal capitalist democracy, Third World states need only avail themselves of the free market. In the classic statement of modernization and development theory by Gabriel Almond and Bingham Powell (1978), such Third World states became like Talcott Parsons’ adaptive societies, themselves analogies to organisms in evolutionary biology. In Parsons’ structural-functionalist model, increased social stratification (i.e. the distribution of tasks and its resulting social inequality) is necessary for progress. And what produces social stratification is the functional transformation of simple inputs into complex outputs. In Almond and Powell’s model, inputs are political demands, outputs are political policies, and the functional transformation of inputs into outputs occurs in the state through interest groups, political parties, bureaucracies, and the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. While Parsons measures the degree of movement of a society from traditional to modern by the complexity/differentiation of its stratification, Almond and Powell measure the degree of movement from underdevelopment to development of Third World states (Figure 8.1).

Domestic environment Inputs (political demands) State functions (interest groups, parties, bureaucracies, legislature, executive, courts) Outputs (policies)

International environment

Figure 8.1 Structural-functional model

Overall, the modernization and development tradition promises that, under the right social, political, and economic conditions, difference will give way to social, political, economic, and cultural sameness, with Third World states modernizing and developing to become more like First World states (Figure 8.2). In so doing, it promises a better standard of living for people in Third World states, and it promises

Third World states (traditional)

Developing states (modernizing)

First World states (modern)

Figure 8.2 Political development timeline


MODERNIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT THEORY Table 8.1 Assumptions of political development General assumptions 1 Change and development are easy 2 All good things go together 3 Radicalism and revolution are bad 4 Distributing power is more important than accumulating power (Packenham, 1973) 4 Distributing power is more important than accumulating power 2 All good things go together Assumptions Huntington rejects

an increasingly secure world for First World states (because the lives of Third World people will improve and because more states will become First World and not either Third World or Second World). The first wave of modernization and development theorists drew four general conclusions about the development process for all states (Table 8.1). First, change and development are easy. Second, all good things go together (like economic growth, economic equality, political stability, democracy, national independence, and autonomy). Third, radicalism and revolution are bad (because they are unnecessary for political development, following on from points one and two). And, finally, distributing power is more important than accumulating power (because democratic pluralism leads to stability) (Packenham, 1973). Samuel Huntington is not a first-wave modernization and development theorist. He is a modernization revisionist. What this means is that while he accepts the basic principles, values, and arguments of modernization and development theory, he has devoted himself to the refinement and correction of some of the ideas in this tradition. Huntington argues that the modernization and development tradition is too focused on development and insufficiently focused on political order. And it is for this reason that this tradition fails to recognize that development (transforming difference into identity) and political stability are often incompatible. As Huntington puts it, “It is not the absence of modernity but the efforts to achieve it which produce political disorder. If poor countries appear to be unstable, it is not because they are poor, but because they are trying to become rich” (1968: 41). What this means is that, for Huntington, addressing the question of political development also requires theorists and practitioners to address the question of order. For Huntington, establishing a legitimate public order in developing states should be privileged over protecting the political liberty of citizens even when that means supporting authoritarian, one-party governments. Democracy should be a later goal because, as he argues, “Authority has to exist before it can be limited” (1968: 8). Huntington’s contentions amount to a rejection of two of the core principles of the modernization and development tradition – all good things go together, and distributing power is more important than accumulating power. In addition, what Huntington implies is that the modernization and development approach fails to solve either the problem of cultural difference or its resulting problem of political disorder. If, as most IR theorists believe, difference leads to instability, and if



modernization and development strategies do not always (if ever) succeed in transforming difference into identity, then the problem of cultural difference and its inherent instability remains. Because few if any Third World states became or are becoming First World states, this means that the social, political, economic, and cultural differences of Third World states are not naturally adapting to the social, political, economic, and cultural identity of First World states. What’s more, while striving to become developed, many Third World states experience greater political instability. This has implications not only for the credibility of the modernization and development tradition (which provides unsatisfying recommendations for how newly independent states might achieve development). It also has implications for the order and security of international life. Huntington’s contribution to the modernization and development debate was to tackle this issue head-on, focusing on how order could be achieved within developing states when identity fails to universalize itself by assimilating difference, when Third World states (and cultures) persist in being different from First World states (and cultures). His clash of civilizations thesis pessimistically globalizes this problem by suggesting that cultural difference creates disorder not only nationally but internationally in a post-Cold War era. In the remainder of the chapter, I will explore what makes Huntington’s myth “there is a clash of civilizations” appear to be true. I will do so by analyzing Huntington’s 1993 essay “The Clash of Civilizations?” bearing in mind his earlier responses to the question of cultural difference in order to pose the question: What must go without saying in order for Huntington’s myth “there is a clash of civilizations” to appear to be true? Huntington’s myth, like IR theory in general, assumes that sameness reduces disorder and difference produces disorder. But what if both sameness and difference produce both order and disorder? And what if the distinctions between identity and difference and between order and disorder cannot be so easily maintained as Huntington and IR theory suggest? These questions are raised by the 2000 British film East is East (Miramax). East is East tells the story of how the Khan family – a working class bi-ethnic, bi-religious, and bi-racial family – struggles with the problem of cultural difference in a northern English suburb of Manchester in 1971. Conflict abounds in this family. Caught between their Pakistani father and their British mother, the Khan children appear to be the disputed fault line between Islamic and Western Christian cultures, where their father’s and their mother’s differences meet. Yet it is also possible to read the Khan children not as emblematic of the clash of civilizations but instead as symbolizing a British multiculturalism emerging in the wake of post-colonial immigration, where cultural identities do not so much clash as they reshape and redefine one another. By suggesting that the Khan children represent emerging identities rather than clashing ones, East is East directs us to look for the sources that motivate conflict in the Khan family elsewhere. Maybe, the film suggests, conflict is not located in the mere existence of cultural difference or even necessarily in attempts to transform cultural differences (bi-ethnic children) into pure cultural identities (either Pakistani or British but not both). Maybe conflict is (also) located in identity itself, in the desire (as we saw in Chapter 7) to be a pure identity but the impossibility to achieve this desire. If this is the case, we have to ask what the implications of this might be for the identities that Huntington claims exist (civilizations) and their post-Cold War relations with one another (clashing).



What does the myth say?
Just as modernization and development theory is interested in the evolution of former colonies from traditional societies to modern states, so, too, is Huntington’s post-Cold War clash of civilizations thesis preoccupied with evolutionary processes. These evolutionary processes are not those occurring within states but between them. The change that Huntington’s thesis claims to account for is “the evolution of conflict in the modern world” (1993: 22). The history of the modern international system until the end of the Cold War was marked by conflicts between princes, then nation-states, and then ideologies, all of which “were primarily conflicts within Western civilizations” (1993: 23). Huntington claims that, “With the end of the Cold War, international politics moves out of its Western phase, and its centerpiece becomes the interaction between the West and non-Western civilizations and among non-Western civilizations” (1993: 23). Huntington’s thesis begs three questions: (1) What are these civilizations of which he speaks? (2) How precisely is world politics mapped into civilizations? (3) Why will civilizations clash in a post-Cold War world? I will address each of these questions in turn. First to the definition of civilizations. Huntington defines a civilization as “a cultural entity” (1993: 23). A civilization is not just any cultural entity (nationalities and religions are not civilizations, for example). “A civilization is . . . the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity people have short of that which distinguishes humans from other species” (1993: 24). As we try to identify civilizations, Huntington tells us we must look to both “common objective elements” of a people, such as language, history, religion, customs, institutions” and to the “subjective self-identification of people” (1993: 24). He gives us the following example. “People have levels of identity: a resident of Rome may define himself with varying degrees of intensity as a Roman, an Italian, a Catholic, a Christian, a European, a Westerner. The civilization to which he belongs is the broadest level of identification with which he intensely identifies” (1993: 24). In defining and identifying what civilizations are, Huntington does not claim that civilizations are discrete or unchanging. “Civilizations obviously blend and overlap, and many include subcivilizations” (1993: 24). As a result of people redefining their identities, “the composition and boundaries of civilizations change” (1993: 24). And sometimes civilizations disappear altogether (1993: 24). Even so, Huntington insists, “Civilizations are nonetheless meaningful entities, and while the lines between them are seldom sharp, they are real” (1993: 24). By positing civilizations as the “crucial, indeed a central aspect” (1993: 22) of contemporary global politics, Huntington recognizes that IR scholars will contest his claim, arguing that states – not civilizations – dominate global politics (see Chapters 2–4). And while, as noted earlier, Huntington appeases IR scholars with his view that “[n]ation-states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs” (1993: 22), he implies that states may not be the “principal actors in global affairs” (1993: 24), at least not over the long run. As he puts it, while states have been the world’s principal actors for only a few centuries, “[t]he broader reaches of human history have been the history of civilizations” (1993: 24–5). So that’s what civilizations are generally. How, then, do civilizations map



onto the contemporary world of global politics? Mapping the world in terms of civilizations is not just a matter of grouping large numbers of people into this category. Lots of people may comprise a civilization, “as with China (‘a civilization pretending to be a state’ as Lucian Pye put it)” (1993: 24). Or there can be very few people in a civilization, “such as the Anglophone Caribbean” (1993: 24). Nor is mapping the world in terms of civilizations the same as mapping it state by state. While, for Huntington, there are cases of a single state constituting a civilization (Japanese civilization, for example), “civilizations may include several nation states, as is the case with Western, Latin American and Arab civilizations” (1993: 24). And states many include more than one civilization, like the “torn countries” of Turkey, Mexico, and Russia (1993: 42–5). Once he gets past all his qualifiers, Huntington claims that there are “seven or eight major civilizations. These include Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilizations” (1993: 25). Huntington does not so much justify his categorization of these seven or eight groupings of states, religious identifications, and philosophical traditions into civilizations as he takes them as historical givens. The existence of civilizations is one thing that goes without saying in Huntington’s myth. What he does justify is why these particular seven or eight civilizations will likely end up in conflict with one another now that the Cold War is over. His answer is twofold. First, Huntington tells us that the fault lines among these seven or eight civilizations have historically been where conflicts have occurred. Second, while the ideological struggles of the Cold War contained civilizational struggles, in the aftermath of the Cold War “[t]he Velvet Curtain of culture has replaced the Iron Curtain of ideology as the most significant dividing line in Europe,” and has had implications for relations between the West and other parts of the world as well (1993: 31). So where are these fault lines between civilizations? A primary one is in Europe which, Huntington tells us, has been culturally divided between Western Christianity and Orthodox Christianity and Islam since 1500. This cultural divide accounts for the different historical experiences and contemporary potentials of these civilizations. On the side of Western Christianity, there is a history of feudalism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, resulting in a present filled with economic prosperity and moving toward increasing economic and democratic consolidation. On the side of Orthodox Christianity and Islam, there is a significantly different history resulting in fewer economic advantages and a lesser chance of developing stable democratic systems. And along this fault line there is a history of conflict (1993: 29–31). Huntington recounts other historical fault lines between civilizations with their different historical experiences and different historical trajectories which either resulted in conflicts (as between Muslims and Hindus, 1993: 33) or which promise to result in conflict in the post-Cold War era (as between China and the USA, and Japan and the USA, 1993: 34). But Huntington devotes the bulk of his attention to the fault line between the West and Islam. As Huntington argues, “Conflict along the fault line between Western and Islamic civilizations has been going on for 1,300 years” in Europe, Turkey, and North Africa, with Islamic empires battling Christian empires through World War II (1993: 31). The end of World War II saw the retreat of Western colonialism, the appearance



of Arab nationalism and then Islamic fundamentalism, Western dependence on Persian Gulf oil, and the increasingly oil-rich Arab states amassing wealth in money and sometimes armaments. During this period, clashes between Islam and the West mostly occurred in the Middle East and in North Africa, involving everything from all-out wars to the bombing and hostage-taking of Western targets. Writing in 1993, Huntington argued, “This warfare between Arabs and the West culminated in 1990, when the United States sent a massive army to the Persian Gulf to defend some Arab countries against aggression by another” (1993: 31). While Huntington recognizes that the Gulf War does not strictly support his “clash of civilizations” thesis (for it is an instance of infighting within what he calls one civilization, Islam), Huntington marks the aftermath of the Gulf War as a moment of consolidation of Islamic civilization, a moment that many postSeptember 11 commentators point to as one important factor in the events of September 11. He writes, “The Gulf War left some Arabs feeling proud that Saddam Hussein had attacked Israel and stood up to the West. It also left many feeling humiliated and resentful of the West’s military presence in the Persian Gulf, the West’s overwhelming military dominance, and their apparent inability to shape their own destiny” (1993: 32). And, he argues further, as economic and social developments in many Arab countries lead to the introduction of democratic practices, “[t]he principal beneficiaries of these openings have been Islamist movements. In the Arab world, in short, Western democracy strengthens antiWestern political forces,” at least for the time being (1993: 32). Or, translated into the language of the modernization and development tradition, all good things do not go together. Huntington is careful not to argue that Islam’s only fault line is with the West. Instead, as Huntington describes it, Islam appears to have fault lines just about everywhere. “[A]long the boundaries of the crescent-shaped Islamic bloc of nations from the bulge of Africa to central Asia, [v]iolence . . . occurs between Muslims, on the one hand, and Orthodox Serbs in the Balkans, Jews in Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Burma and Catholics in the Philippines. Islam has bloody borders” (1993: 35). While Huntington writes in general terms about civilizations when he predicts “[t]he next world war, if there is one, will be a war between civilizations” (1993: 39), and states that, “[t]he central axis of world politics in the future is likely to be, in Kishore Mahbubani’s phrase, the conflict between ‘the West and the Rest’ and the responses of non-Western civilizations to Western power and values” (1993: 41), his primary focus remains firmly on the confrontation between Islam and the West. This is clear from his choice of expert quotes. Huntington first quotes the observations of Indian Muslim M.J. Akbar, who argues that “[t]he West’s ‘next confrontation . . . is definitely going to come from the Muslim world. It is in the sweep of the Islamic nations from the Maghreb to Pakistan that the struggle for a new world order will begin’” (1993: 32). He next offers the observations of historian Bernard Lewis who writes, “We are facing a mood and a movement far transcending the level of issues and policies and the governments that pursue them. This is no less than a clash of civilizations – the perhaps irrational but surely historical reaction of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage, our secular present, and the world-wide expansion of both” (Lewis, 1990: 24–8, quoted in Huntington, 1993: 32; my italics).



With Lewis’s quote, we realize that it is from Lewis’s observations that Huntington got the phrase “clash of civilizations” to begin with. And while Huntington has generalized it beyond the clash between the West and Islam and has done so in work dating back to at least the 1980s (see Weiner and Huntington, 1987), it is now anchored firmly in the West vs. Islam clash in Lewis’s remarks and in Huntington’s. So, all this explains why Huntington focuses on his seven or eight civilizations rather than some others in his clash of civilizations thesis – because these civilizations have been and continue to be in conflict with one another. What remains to be explored is the question of why this is. Why do civilizations conflict with one another, and why should we be focusing on civilizations rather than just states as we try to understand post-Cold War conflict? Huntington has no shortage of answers to these questions, which is to be expected since his thesis seems to hinge on these issues. We already know Huntington’s general answer to these questions – post-Cold War ideologies no longer keep civilizational conflicts in check. But why do we have civilizational conflicts in the first place, and why specifically are they likely to be unchecked in the post-Cold War world? Huntington offers six specific responses to support his claim that future conflicts will be along cultural fault lines separating civilizations. First, he argues that “differences among civilizations are not only real; they are basic,” and “[t]hey are far more fundamental than differences among political ideologies and political regimes” (1993: 25). This is because civilizations, as we saw earlier, “are differentiated from each other by history, language, culture, tradition, and, most important, religion” which leads “people of different civilizations to have different views on the relations between God and man, the individual and the group, the citizen and the state, parents and children, husband and wife, as well as differing views of the relative importance of rights and responsibilities, liberty and authority, equality and hierarchy” (1993: 25). Second, Huntington observes that “the world is becoming a smaller place” (1993: 25). This does not have the effect of turning the world into one big international society, as someone like Charles Kegley has argued (see Chapter 3). Rather, it has the effect of further dividing people into civilizations. “The interactions among people of different civilizations enhance the civilizations-consciousness of people that, in turn, invigorates differences and animosities stretching or thought to stretch back deep in history” (1993: 26). Third, “the processes of economic modernization and social change throughout the world are separating people from longstanding local identities” as well as weakening their attachments to nation-states as a source of identity (1993: 26). In the place of local and national affiliations, people are increasingly returning to religion to fill this gap (1993: 26). Quoting George Weigel, Huntington claims that “the ‘unsecularization of the world . . . is one of the dominant social facts of life in the late twentieth century,’” which means that religion currently “provides a basis for identity and commitment that transcends national boundaries and unites civilizations” (1993: 26). Fourth, “the growth of civilization-consciousness is enhanced by the dual role of the West” (1993: 26). On the one hand, with the West at the peak of its power, it (and especially the USA) dominates international life not only politically but



culturally, especially through popular culture, something that is often embraced by non-Western masses. On the other hand – and probably as a result – Huntington notes a movement among non-Western elites toward increasing “de-Westernization and indigenization,” like the “‘Asianization’ of Japan, . . . the ‘Hinduization’ of India, . . . and the ‘re-Islamization’ of the Middle East” (1993: 26–7). Fifth, “cultural characteristics and differences are less mutable and hence less easily compromised and resolved than political and economic ones” (1993: 27). This is because political and economic differences are about opinions or status which can change, whereas cultural differences are about identity. As Huntington explains, “In class and ideological conflicts, the key question was ‘Which side are you on?’ and people could and did choose sides and change sides. In conflicts about civilizations, the question is ‘What are you?’ That is a given that cannot be changed” (1993: 27). This is the case even more so in the case of religion than in the case of ethnicity, for “[a] person can be half-French and half-Arab and simultaneously even a citizen of two countries. It is more difficult to be half-Catholic and half-Muslim” (1993: 27). Finally, “economic regionalism is increasing” and “successful economic regionalism will reinforce civilization-consciousness” (1993: 27). This is because “economic regionalism may succeed only when it is rooted in a common civilization,” such as the European Community rooting itself in the Western Christian civilization (1993: 27). Overall, Huntington fully recognizes that “[a]s people define their identity in ethnic and religious terms, they are likely to see an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ relation existing between themselves and people of different ethnicity or religion” (1993: 29). This, combined with the end of ideologically-based states, longstanding territorial disputes, and, “[m]ost importantly, the efforts of the West to promote its values of democracy and liberalism as universal values, to maintain its military predominance and to advance its economic interests” all “engender countering responses from other civilizations” (1993: 29 and 39–41). All of this has implications for the West. Because “the paramount axis of world politics will be the relations between ‘the West and the Rest’” (1993: 48), Huntington sets out an agenda of short- and long-term policy recommendations for the West to follow. In the short term, his advice to the West is to consolidate its civilization, with Europe and North America wooing Eastern Europe and Latin America into its civilization and maintaining friendly ties with Russia and Japan. As the West consolidates itself, it should also take steps to defend itself against non-Western civilizations with which it is not friendly, by limiting their military might, exploiting differences among them, maintaining Western military capabilities, and promoting Western interests and values wherever possible. In other words, Huntington councils the West to consolidate sameness/identity globally where it can while it guards itself against and divides difference wherever it finds it (1993: 48–9). Over the longer term, the West must be prepared to deal with modern, non-Western civilizations, civilizations that reject Western values and interests but which nonetheless command sufficient power to challenge the West economically and militarily. To deal with these civilizations, Huntington councils first military and economic protection from them, second, a back-to-comparative-politics Western development of “a more profound understanding of the basic religious and



philosophical assumptions underlying other civilizations” and their interests, and finally “an effort to identify elements of commonality between Western and other civilizations” (1993: 49). All this is necessary, Huntington writes at the close of his article, because “[f]or the relevant future, there will be no universal civilization, but instead a world of different civilizations, each of which will have to learn to coexist with the other” (1993: 49). Taken as a whole, Huntington’s attempt to confront the problem of cultural difference is firmly located within both traditional IR theory and within the modernization and development tradition. Read through IR theory, Huntington’s myth asks the very question at the center of IR theory – why do we have conflict, and where is conflict located? Recall, for example, that this was Kenneth Waltz’s question in Man, the State, and War (Chapter 2). And Huntington arrives at the very same answer as IR theory – we have conflict because we have differences, and these differences/conflicts are located between identities. For Huntington, identity is a civilization, and difference is located at the fault lines between civilizations. While it is differently nuanced (for example, it does not get stuck in the levels of analysis problem), Huntington’s answer is no different to that of Waltz (identity = states; difference = anarchy between states) or Fukuyama (identity = ideology; difference = dialectical ideological clashes) or Hardt and Negri (identity = ontological singularities of “Empire” and “the multitude”; difference = clashes between them). Nor is it different from the logic implicit in Kegley’s myth that “there is an international society” (Chapter 3), which accepts that difference leads to conflict and therefore attempts to remap the world as one big identity (international society). Read through modernization and development theory, Huntington’s work tackles this tradition’s failure to solve the problem of cultural difference. The modernization and development tradition’s attempts to transform difference into identity through development efforts have been most successful at destabilizing Third World states internally. During the Cold War, Huntington’s clash of civilizations thesis suggests, it was possible to contain Third World destabilizations – the destabilizations of difference – within Third World states. But now that the Cold War is over – now that ideology no longer maps the world and now that globalization (i.e. “the world is becoming a smaller place,” 1993: 25) means that the degree of stability of developing states increasingly affects the degree of stability of developed states and global markets – Third World instability is everywhere seeping out of its former political containers (nation-states), collecting into larger units that remap the global without the promise of containment (civilizations), and destabilizing the post-Cold War international order. For all of his qualifiers, Huntington’s conclusion about the problem of cultural difference is no less teleological than those found in the modernization and development tradition. The only distinction is that while modernization and development theory promised that economic development and political stability could be achieved simultaneously by adapting Third World difference to First World identity because “all good things go together,” Huntington’s clash of civilizations thesis promises the opposite. Noting how “processes of economic modernization and social change throughout the world” (1993: 26) not only fail to deliver modernization and development but fail to deliver political stability, Huntington’s clash of civilizations thesis “ontologizes” global differences – making global differences themselves into



identities called civilizations that are not reducible to one another – which promise only increasing global instability because of the inevitable clashes among them. Huntington is correct that his thesis is an improvement on modernization and development theories that denied non-Western civilizations any historical agency. Writing of the new post-Cold War realities as he sees them, Huntington claims, “In the politics of civilizations, the peoples and governments of non-Western civilizations no longer remain the objects of history as targets of Western colonialism but join the West as movers and shapers of history” (1993: 23). Yet the only agency Huntington allows non-Western civilizations is the destabilizing agency of difference. This is hardly something to boast about. Given all this, what must go without saying in order for Huntington’s myth to appear to be true is that difference is inherently destabilizing, or at least more destabilizing than identity. But is this necessarily the case? It is this question that is considered in the film East is East.

East is East
East is East is set in the working-class Manchester suburb of Salford in 1971 against the dual backdrops of the rise of racist nationalism in Britain and war between India and Pakistan over East Pakistan in the Asian subcontinent. Importantly, even though the film takes place during the Cold War, the Cold War plays no role in the film, through plot, characters, or motivation. What this allows is for the world of East is East to be mapped not by ideology but by culture. And so it is. East is East tells the story of the Khan family – Pakistani father George (Om Puri), white British mother Ella (Linda Bassett), and their seven bi-racial, bi-ethnic children – Nazir, Abdul, Tariq, Saleem, Maneer, Meenah, and Sajid. The film introduces us to all of its major characters and defines the tensions over identity and difference within the Khan family in its title sequence and first post-credits series of scenes. The film opens in celebratory style. Before we see any action, we hear five drum beats from a marching band, followed by a distorted, twisted note that readies us for comedy. On this note, the screen cuts from black to an aerial view of a Salford street, lined with redbrick terrace houses. A procession led by a priest marches into view from the bottom of the scene as the up-beat marching music is joined by fastpaced, bouncy lyrics. So we waved our hands as we marched along, and the people smiled as we sang our song, and the world was safe as we listened to the band. And the banner man held a banner high. He was ten feet tall, and he touched the sky. I wish that I could be a banner man. With the camera now at street level, we see the priest, young girls in their white confirmation dresses, and boys in their Sunday suits carrying a ten-foot high banner, all leading the procession as it turns onto the Khan family’s street. Cut to a statue of Jesus mounted on a six-foot cross, bobbing up and down as it is being



carried. The camera pans down to reveal who is carrying it. It is a smiling teenage girl, Meenah, George and Ella’s only daughter. Behind her are her older teenage and twenty-something brothers. Maneer and Saleem are carrying a statue of the virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus, and behind them are Tariq and Abdul each carrying small banners. Tariq is followed by his girlfriend Stella (who follows Tariq everywhere) and her friend Peggy (who follows Stella everywhere). In front of Meenah is their pre-teenage brother Sajid (who is eternally dressed in a drab green parka with a fur-lined hood). While his older brothers whisper to one another “Check out the nurses,” Sajid gleefully tosses about crepe paper petals, as Annie, a woman who works with Ella and George, walks beside him. They are all well back in the procession. It is Whit Week, and this is the Whitsun parade. Suddenly a frantic Ella enters the scene. Finding Annie, she urgently tells her friend that George is back early from mosque. Cut to George standing on his street, smiling as the parade advances toward him. Annie turns to the kids. “Red alert. Red alert. Red alert.” All the kids – still carrying their Catholic statues and banners and Sajid still throwing his petals – plus Stella and Peggy, exit the procession just as it is about to turn the corner. Cut to aerial view. We see the kids running down a back alley while Ella rushes down the main road to join her husband. As the camera returns to ground level, we see George and Ella watching the procession now absent of Khan children. George is unaware that his children were ever part of the procession, and an anxious Ella is determined to keep it that way. George waves a greeting to Annie while Ella watches her kids slip behind George’s back down the alley. As the procession turns off the Khan family’s road, the children once again join it. This is the end of the title sequence. Cut to the interior of the Khan house. The camera situates the action with its opening shot of a wall containing the family portraits, with George and Ella in the middle surrounded by their seven children. Preparations are underway for a special event. Downstairs, as the children playfully torment one another, Ella dressed in her best clothes brushes the hair of complaining Meenah while Saleem fusses with Meenah’s sari. Ella hurries Maneer through his kettle-filled zinc tub bath and scolds Sajid, who wears a fancy waistcoat over his parka, for scratching his head. Upstairs, the atmosphere is solemn. Abdul, Tariq, and George help to prepare eldest son Nazir for the occasion. It is Nazir’s wedding day. Abdul helps Nazir with his coat. George paints Nazir’s eyes, adjusts his turban, and places a veil of gold tinsel over his face as is the tradition for a Muslim groom. He tells Nazir, “Son, today you making me very proud.” Then George straps a watch with Nazir’s name in Arabic to Nazir’s wrist and leads his son down the stairs, where he presents Nazir to the family, saying to the stunned faces, “Ella, your son.” Outside, the wedding party crowds into a mini-bus while Enoch Powell supporter Mr Moorhouse (the grandfather of Tariq’s girlfriend Stella and Sajid’s friend Ernest who has a crush on Meenah) quips, “Look at that, a piccaninny’s fuckin’ picnic.” Cut to interior of the mosque. The people assembled for the wedding are cheerful and noisy as they await the ceremony. Nazir and his family take their places at the front of the hall, with veiled Nazir facing the crowd. A hush falls across the room as the veiled bride is led in by her parents. They join the groom and his family.



The bride’s mother removes the veil from her daughter’s face. At George’s signal, Abdul lifts Nazir’s veil. Bride and groom see one another for the first time. Both are beautiful. The bride smiles cautiously, as Nazir looks increasingly nervous. The ceremony begins. But Nazir raises his hand and stands. George: You all right, son? Nazir [sorrowfully]: I can’t do this, Dad. George: Nazir . . . Nazir [insisting]: No, I can’t. George [urging]: . . . everything ok. [Nazir rushes down the aisle toward the exit.] George [angry]: Nazir, don’t do this. Nazir! Ella [worried as she rushes after her son who leaves the hall]: Nazir. [Everyone is stunned.] Cut to interior of Khan house. The camera focuses on Nazir’s photo on the wall of family portraits, as it fades to an empty space. Cut to interior of mosque. George is consulting the Mullah. George [speaking of Nazir]: Why he wants to do this thing to me, bring a shame on a my family. I no understand. No understand. [pause] Maybe I should have take family to Bradford long time ago. More Pakistanis there. No this problem. Mullah [addressing George by his Pakistani name]: It will always be difficult for you, Zaheer. They’re different. This is the end of the first sequence. The rest of the action takes place six months later. What do these two sequences tell us about how the film makes sense of identity and difference? How are identity and difference characterized, and where are they located? Because the film maps the world not through Cold War ideology but through culture, it would come as no surprise to Huntington that the film casts identity and difference in national and religious terms. Nationally, we have British identities and Pakistani identities. From an extreme British nationalist perspective (symbolized by Enoch Powell and characterized by Mr Moorhouse), Britishness is identity and everything else (including Pakistaniness) is difference. From an extreme traditional Pakistani perspective (a position George flirts with and increasingly gravitates toward in the course of the film), identity is Pakistaniness and difference is Britishness. Each national position has a dominant religious position, with Britishness introduced through Western Christianity in the title sequence and Pakistaniness introduced through Islam in the first sequence. Because they are cast in national and religious terms, identities are located within spaces like nation-states and what Huntington would call civilizations. And because Huntington’s civilizations defy Waltz’s “levels of analysis” problem by being simultaneously located at the individual, the state, and the international level, it is not surprising that we also find these identities located within the families of Salford and differences located between them. According to the heads of their households, the Moorhouse family is British and belongs to Western Christianity;



the Khan family is Pakistani and belongs to Islam. Each clash with the other, with Mr Moorhouse, on the one hand, campaigning for the relocation and repatriation of immigrants like George, and George, on the other, running “George’s English Chippy” shop down the road from the Moorhouse home while raising his children as Muslims. All of this seems to support Huntington’s thesis “there is a clash of civilizations,” with two of the world’s major civilizations clashing in Salford as the world becomes a smaller place (Huntington, 1993: 35; in the film through postcolonial immigration rather than as in Huntington’s myth through globalization, although some might argue that the first is the necessary precursor to the second) and two civilizations (Islam and Hinduism) at war with one another in Asia over the succession of East Pakistan from Pakistan. This is one way to understand how the film makes sense of the world. It claims that civilizations/identities are best kept apart (via repatriation or, as George wishes, by clustering cultures in segregated communities like Bradford which the film refers to as “Bradistan”) because when civilizations meet, the differences between them cause conflict (see Box 8.1). But of course things aren’t quite that simple. On the one hand, Salford represents the increasing difficulty of keeping different identities apart, while the Moorhouse family and especially the Khan family represent the impossibility of this. Yes, families of different identities do constitute Salford, but individuals of different identities increasingly constitute these families. For example, while the Moorhouse family is led by its ultra-nationalist Grandad, granddaughter Stella has a Pakistani boyfriend, and grandson Ernest not only has a Pakistani best friend, he also greets his friends father as if Ernest himself were Muslim, with “Salaam-alacum, Mr Khan” to which George replies “Waalacum-salaam.” In the Khan family, George represents Islam/Pakistan, Ella represents Western Christianity/Britain, and their seven children represent another fault line where these two civilizations clash. At first, this, too, suggests that Huntington got it right because the question that preoccupies each Khan child is the urgent question Huntington identifies for a world mapped by civilizations: Who am I? Caught between two civilizations and therefore between two identities, the Khan children struggle to answer this question because neither their father’s nor their mother’s answer precisely maps onto any of them. They represent, in Huntington’s terms, the ease with which one might simultaneously claim two nationalities but the difficulty of being “half-Catholic and half-Muslim” (Huntington, 1993: 27). Or, to put it in the terms of the film’s opening song, they represent how the desire to “be a banner man” – to be an identity – always seems to elude them.

Box 8.1 How East is East makes sense of the world
1 2 George/Islam and Ella/Western Christianity clash over their bi-cultural children who represent the faultlines between these civilizations; or The Khan children do not represent the faultlines between Western Christianity and Islam but foreshadow the multicultural Britain emerging in the post-colonial era.



And yet all of the Khan children are scripted as strong, if stereotypical, characters. Young Sajid cocoons himself from the struggles facing his elder siblings with his parka and his age. For example, when asked by a Pakistani woman how old he is, Sajid replies, “Not old enough to get married, so don’t ask me.” Meenah is a tomboy. Saleem is an art student passing as an engineering student to his father but out to his mother. Maneer, nicknamed Gandhi by his siblings, follows Islamic traditions more closely than the others, although even he took part in the opening Catholic procession. Tariq/Tony is the clubber who fancies himself as a bit of a playboy and certainly not a “Paki.” Abdul is the most independent of the children remaining at home, negotiating racism in the workplace and attempting to respect his mother and his father at home so he can hold onto his family. And Nazir, who refused to marry in the first scene, turns up later as a gay hairdresser working in his boyfriend’s fancy salon. What this suggests is that the Khan children have strong personalities, but none of their personalities is reducible to the “civilizational” choices available to them. And, indeed, the Khan children do not want to choose a civilizational identity. They don’t think of themselves as either Pakistani or British, as either Catholic or Muslim, much less as belonging to the broader grouping of civilization. In this sense, the Khan children do not so much represent Huntington’s fault line between civilizations as they foreshadow the present multicultural Britain. This, then, is an alternative way of reading how the film makes sense of the world. The film suggests that the world is a multicultural place with “culture,” defined in national and religious terms, spilling out of its prior boundaries and mixing in and across nations, families, and individuals, not so much creating conflict as it is redefining identity. Even so, the film does (as we will see) depict conflict, and this conflict is located primarily around the Khan children. What, then, do the Khan children represent? Are they fault lines between civilizations, or are they multicultural sites in the Britain emerging from the 1970s? Or, put differently, which depiction of the world is correct? For the Khan children to represent fault lines between civilizations, their bifurcated cultural identities must motivate the conflict in the film. For the Khan children to represent an emerging multicultural Britain, their cultural identities still might well be sources of conflict, but the conflict that motivates the film’s action would be located elsewhere. And if it is, then Huntington’s thesis “there is a clash of civilizations” fails to function. So, where is the motivation for the conflict in East is East located? As I have already suggested, conflict is located at some fault line, and at first this fault line appears to be between identities where differences meet. But as a second look at the film points out, this fault line need not be located between identities. It can also be located within identities. We see it within the Pakistani state, a territorially discontinuous, artificial entity resulting from India’s partitioning into Hindu and Muslim communities, now at war with itself. We see it within the British state, a former empire faced with absorbing its colonial subjects as citizens. We see it within the Khan family, in its inability to be either Muslim or Christian, traditional or modern, Pakistani or British, black or white. We see it within the Khan children, a bunch of pork-eating, mosque-educated fans of Bollywood and English football. And we see it within George Khan himself. Indeed, in East is East, is it George Khan



who is having the central identity crisis, with all the other identity crises either mirrored (Britain, Pakistan) or provoked (his kids) by him. George has good reason to be in crisis about his identity. George/Zaheer/ Ghingus to his kids is a self-made, modernized, Westernized Pakistani immigrant living in the predominantly white working-class British suburbs with Ella and their seven children while his traditional Pakistani Muslim first wife, to whom he is still married, lives in Pakistan. Even though “first wife” lives in Pakistan (and “second wife” is determined to keep her there), this does not mean that George has managed to keep his Pakistani and British-Pakistani lives from mixing. Unlike his tea, which George enjoys in half cups, his complex relationships to people, nations, and religions refuse to be taken in halves, defying this simple trick of spatial separation. For, as the opening sequences establish, George’s identity is daily disputed around nation through local and national racist repatriation campaigns (which double for Britain’s own post-colonial identity crisis) and through Pakistan’s war with India (which doubles for George’s dual Pakistani identity – “pure” Pakistani and BritishPakistani). And George’s crisis of religious (not to mention generational and gender) identity constantly crops up through his kids. It is not confined to his oldest son’s refusal of his Muslim bride. Six months later, when the action resumes, the Mullah discovers to George’s embarrassment that, due to some oversight, Sajid was never circumcised. To reclaim his honor in the eyes of his religious community, George insists (and Ella agrees, although she later regrets this) that Sajid be “de-hooded.” But even this procedure provokes George’s anxieties when he discovers that Sajid’s surgeon is a doctor of Indian origin. With this, George has had enough. Despairing, he again consults the Mullah about his family. George: Just ’cause they mam English no mean they not good Pakistani. I know people think this thing. Mullah: Zaheer, until your sons join the community fully, they will be a worry to you. Lack of total integration into any community – the lack of a unified, community-based identity – is precisely George’s problem. As a good father concerned about his children, George plots with the Mullah about how to protect his kids from this terrible predicament. The answer – Muslim marriages. George agrees in principle to marry Abdul and Tariq to the daughters of a Bradford Pakistani, Mr Shah. When George lets it slip to Ella that he has arranged the marriages without informing the boys, Ella is angry and demands that George tell them. But George warns Ella to stay out of his business. Ella: They have a right to know, George. George: What you mean right? Pakistani believe if father ask son marry, son follow father instruction. I should have sent all bloody kids to Pakistan when young, other wife teach them bloody respect. Here, George is clear. He is a Pakistani father to Pakistani children from who he demands respect for his traditions, or at least these are his desires. And while the


MODERNIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT THEORY Table 8.2 What is typical and deviant in the world of East is East? Typical For George’s values and Ella’s values to respectfully co-exist within the Khan family, even if in this patriarchal 1970s household Ella’s values and the children’s respect for them must be concealed Deviant For George to force his children to become fully integrated into his culture

apparent realization of these desires is something Ella and the kids generally offer him, marriage without consent is going too far, especially in light of the family’s history with Nazir. All this gives indications of what the film says is typical and deviant in the world of East is East (see Table 8.2). What is typical is for George’s values and Ella’s values to respectfully co-exist within the Khan family, even if in this patriarchal 1970s household, Ella’s values and the children’s respect for them must be concealed. What is deviant is for George to force his children to become fully integrated into his longed-for cultural identity, even if he believes it is for their own good. This suggests that there is no “clash of civilizations” in the film. George and Ella never compete over the civilizational identities of their children. Ella respects George’s wishes when it comes to religious matters, and so do the children (although, like children, they don’t necessary enjoy themselves in the process or take either their father’s or their mother’s religion seriously). And while Ella certainly exposes the children to Western Christianity, she does not, cannot, and (we are led to believe) would not insist that the children define themselves through her “civilizational identity.” For Ella recognizes that her children embody new, distinct identities. They are the full cups of tea that George only ever takes as halves. The conflict in East is East, then, occurs not because differences cannot peacefully and respectfully co-exist (as they have for the past 25 years of the Khan marriage). Conflict seems to exist because George insists on transforming difference (first his bi-cultural children and later his English wife) into identity (Pakistani Muslims fully integrated into that community). It is only at this point that his children and his wife lose respect for him and his culture. When the boys find out about their arranged marriages, Tariq breaks into the wedding chest, angrily destroys the apparel, and crushes the watches with his and Abdul’s names in Arabic. George discovers the scene as Maneer is trying to return the damaged items to the chest. When Maneer refuses to tell George who is responsible for the mess, George drags him to the shop where Ella is and beats him. Ella intervenes. George [to Maneer]: I not finished with you yet, Mr! [to Ella] You just same as you bloody kid. I your husband. You should agreeing with me like proper Muslim wife.



Ella: Yeah, right, I’m a Muslim wife when it suits you. I’ll stop being a Muslim wife at 5:30 when the shop wants opening, or one of your relatives wants help at the home office. Don’t make me bleeding laugh, George. George: I tell, don’t starting, ’cause I fix you, like I fix your baster kids! You all pucking trouble with me. Ella: They’re only trouble because you don’t listen to them, you never have. George: You married me 25 years and know nothing. [very angry] I warning Ella, you not talk to me like this. Ella: Yeah, you’re right, 25 years I’ve been married to you, George. I’ve sweated me guts out in your bastard shop and given you seven kids as well. And I’ll tell you this for nothing, I’m not gonna stand by and watch you crush ’em one by one because of your pig bloody ignorance. At this point, George turns on Ella, beating her. All this still seems to suggest that Huntington got it right. For in his work on modernization and development theory, he argued that difference alone does not cause instability. What causes instability are attempts to transform difference into identity. His solution for the modernization and development tradition was first to recognize this and second to support sometimes authoritarian Third World governments to insure stability during the transition to development. This is precisely the logic that George follows. When faced with resistance as he tries to transform difference into identity, George becomes increasingly authoritarian in order to retain order within his family. Because Huntington learned this in his early work, in his later work on the clash of civilizations he councils that identity stop trying to transform difference. For Huntington, identity is the West and difference is the Rest. Rather than transform difference into identity, Huntington urges separation, segregation and securitization. All this is necessary because, as we saw earlier, Huntington elevates different itself into the central source of instability in a world mapped by civilizations. Therefore, the best approach identity (the West) can take in relation to difference (the Rest) is to steer clear of it. In East is East, it is the Rest (Islam) that is trying to secure itself from the West (Western Christianity). But, from Huntington’s perspective, because George cannot separate, segregate and thereby secure his family’s Islamic identity from the pervasive Western Christian civilization in which it exists, conflict is inevitable. Difference leads to disorder. This is not primarily because, as George tells himself, the family live in a Western Christian environment (Salford) rather than a more Pakistani one (Bradford/Bradistan/Pakistan). Rather, it is because George’s children, George’s wife, and indeed George himself bring difference (the West) into the identity George strives for (Islam). All this makes me wonder, is it ever possible to separate, segregate, and secure identity from its fault lines? And, even if it were possible, is it necessary? By demonstrating that differences can peacefully and respectfully co-exist within the Khan family before marriages are forced on the children and within the younger generation of the Salford community (the Khan and Moorhouse children), East is East suggests that Huntington got it wrong. It is not (always) necessary to separate, segregate, and secure identity from difference. In so doing, the film exposes one of the things that must go without saying in order for Huntington’s myth to appear



to be true – Huntington’s truth that difference in and of itself produces instability. The film also raises the question of whether, as Huntington also claims, the move from difference to identity causes instability. While this might indeed be the case at times, East is East points out that instability and conflict are not always generated from either the mere existence of difference or its transformation to identity. Instability and conflict can be located firmly within identity, in the desire to be a unified identity and in the impossibility of ever achieving that desire. This is George’s impossible desire, and it is exposed when Tariq confronts him about his wedding. George: I warning you, Mr! I not bringing you up to give me no respect. Pakistani son always shows respect. Tariq: Dad, I’m not Pakistani. I was born here. I speak English, not Urdu. George: Son, you not understand ’cause you not listen to me. I trying to show you good way to live. You not English. English people never accepting you. In Islam, everyone equal see, no black man, or white man. Only Muslim. It special community. Tariq: I’m not saying it’s not, Dad, I just think I’ve got a right to choose who I get married to. George: You want bloody English girl? They not good. They go with other men, drink alcohol, no look after. Tariq [angry]: Well, if English women are so bad, why did you marry me mam? [George takes a knife to Tariq’s throat.] George: Baster! I tell you no go too far with me. You do what I tell you, understand! Han? Understand? Tariq [afraid]: Yeah right Dad. I understand. I understand. I’ll do what you want. I’ll get married to a Pakistani. [defiantly] And you know what I’ll do then? I’ll marry a fucking English woman as well. Just like me dad! By naming the differences within his father’s identity, Tariq locates the fundamental fault line in the film, the fault line within his father’s identity. In so doing, the film suggests that it is not possible to separate, segregate, and secure identity from its fault lines because sometimes these fault lines are located within identity rather than between identities. It is the fault line within George’s identity that is the location and the motivation for the conflict in the film. It provides George with an identity crisis, instills in him the desire to be a unified identity, and confronts him with his inability to achieve this desire. George’s desire to be a unified identity creates conflict and violence because in failing to be an identity himself, he first attempts to help his children and then demands that his children and his wife become the identities he wants (them) to be. This move, of course, fails. It fails not only because it meets the resistance of his family (in a comic sequence that turns violent at the close of the film, George’s authority in the household passes to Abdul when Abdul literally de-hoods Sajid while stopping his father from again beating his mother). It fails because there is no such thing as a singular, unified identity. Identity is itself conflictual. Being an identity is about managing and interpreting differences within so-called identities like selves, states, and civilizations as much as it is about managing and interpreting differences between them.



This is the crucial point that Huntington’s myth “there is a clash of civilizations” misses. Unsurprisingly, it is the same point that IR theory misses. Because, by beginning from the assumption that difference produces instability and identity produces stability, Huntington’s myth and traditional IR theory turn blind eyes toward the possibility that identity – and, indeed, the impossible quest to be an identity – also produces instability. This is the crucial point that must go without saying in order for Huntington’s myth “there is a clash of civilizations” to appear to be true.

Identity, desire, and culture
Why do we wish that identity were coterminous with culture? This is the question begged both by Huntington’s myth and by the film East is East. In each case, the answer lies in the politics of security. If identity were coterminous with Huntington’s idea of culture – if my empirical existence (“being” me) mapped precisely onto some stagnate set of collective normative values embedded in my history, customs, religion (“being” from my culture), then answering the question “who am I?” would be easy. And by knowing who I am, I would also know who I am not. For example, if I answer the question “who am I?” with the answer “I am Islamic,” then my answer is also, “and I am not Western or Japanese or Hindu or . . . ” This is precisely what Huntington’s construction of civilizations as cultural identities offers contemporary subjects grappling with questions of identity. While East is East rejects Huntington’s construction of civilizational identities by complicating the notion of culture – by both multiplying culture (“being” simultaneously from Western Christian and Islamic cultures) and thereby allowing for the birth of new cultural identities (“being” multicultural) – the film still enables contemporary subjects to answer questions of identity with reference to culture. For some people, the answer will still be “I am a singular identity,” whereas for others (like the Khan children) the answer will be “I am a multiple identity.” But either way, identity is secured with reference to culture because, as we all should know by now, “being” multicultural is the new identity of many individuals in the era of globalization. All of this is terribly reassuring because culture and multiculturalism not only provide individuals with identities. They provide individuals with security, not only personally but politically. Why? Because cultural identities that ground individuals are easily collectivized so that they can also ground states and civilizations, whether they are singular or multiple. So, for example, East is East explores how a state like post-World War II Britain identified itself as “being” one culture, and how contemporary Britain increasingly identifies itself as “being” multicultural. Because it now officially claims a multiple cultural identity as its answer to the question “who am I?,” Britain has translated its problem of cultural difference into the cultural source of its secure identity. Britain is multicultural. Multiculturalism is the new singular identity to which Britain officially refers. Huntington’s myth “there is a clash of civilizations” also attempts to secure collective identities through claims to cultural identities. His identities are single-



culture civilizations that provide the highest level of meaningful identifications not only to individuals but also to states. So, for example, while not every individual in the contemporary multicultural state of Britain would identify as Western, the British multicultural state as a collective identity does identify as Western. In this way, cultural differences among people within states – even when they are celebrated as the cultural foundations of the state – are rendered less meaningful in Huntington’s civilizational terms. But, for Huntington, this can only be a good thing, for it seems to solve the problem of cultural difference within states and civilizations, and it seems to locate the worrying cultural differences that make the identities of states insecure not within states but between civilizations. For example, when British-born Muslims fought against British forces on the side of the Taliban in Afghanistan after September 11, these individuals were read in civilizational terms (as the “disturbing difference” of Islam) rather than in national terms (as the “disturbing difference” in British multiculturalism). So, equating identity to culture is a contemporary response to the problem of cultural difference, which seems to provide individuals, states, and civilizations with internal security and which banishes the insecurity of difference outside these secure identities. Yet while this is the desired solution to the problem of cultural difference, this does not mean it is always a successful solution. Indeed, a disturbing irony of Huntington’s attempt to solve the problem of cultural difference for the West/USA – thereby securing the realm of international politics in a post-Cold War era – is that it has had precisely the opposite effect. In the wake of September 11, Huntington’s civilizational discourse has been appropriated by all sides to justify why the immutable cultural differences embodied by their uncivilized enemy leave them no alternative but violence. The result is that the world is a far less secure place. This is not to say that the insecurity sparked by the events of September 11 can be pinned on Huntington’s thesis. It is to say that much of the insecurity emanating from “civilizational consciousness” in its aftermath can be. For even though Huntington’s thesis got lots of academic attention on its publication in 1993, it was only after September 11, when media, government, and scholarly commentators publicly debated his thesis, that “civilizational consciousness” seeped into popular imaginaries. With people’s global terms of reference so unhinged by September 11, it is not surprising that many of them turned to a thesis that promised to equate identity with culture and thereby resecure their personal, national, and international boundaries. At that particular historical moment, the desire for identity to be coterminous with culture proved to be a very strong desire indeed. But as the trauma of September 11 gives way to critical reflection, there is an increasing recognition by some that the desire to be an identity and the corresponding desire to mark oneself off from difference is unattainable. Whether embodied by the rise of the New Right within Western multicultural states like Britain and the USA or by the rise of fundamentalisms that fracture Huntington’s civilizational categories of Islam and Western Christianity, we are reminded that “being” an identity – whether as an individual, a state, or a civilization – is not as easy as Huntington suggests. This is because identity is as contentious, unstable, and conflictual as difference. In other words, both identity (and its impossibility) and difference (and its impossibility) produce stability and instability, order and disorder.



Suggestions for further thinking Topic 1 Critiques of modernization and development theory
It should be clear even from this very brief discussion of the modernization and development tradition that it reflects not only the liberal ideological beliefs of US political and economic theory but also a specific rendering of what is historically possible. What was historically possible for Third World states attempting to become developed in the early years of the Cold War and remains historically possible for them today is what was historically possible for the USA when it was developing. Such a view relies on what Louise Hartz calls an exceptionalist view of US political history – one that generalizes the US historical experience to other nations, even though US history bears little resemblance to that of the rest of the world (1955). In the case of modernization and development, the USA generalizes its history of “development” to that of the newly independent states, even though the USA itself “developed” politically, economically, and socially when capitalism was dawning and not when it had to – like later former colonies – compete in a globalized capitalist marketplace with states who have dominated that marketplace for 100-plus years. These are precisely the sorts of critiques that Marxist and (neo)Marxists like Andre Gunder Frank, Cardoso and Faletto, and Immanuel Wallerstein have put forward. Yet as we saw in Chapter 7 on Hardt and Negri’s Empire, in their desire to opposed liberal ideologies and liberal capitalist readings of history, Marxists and (neo)Marxists often repeat Huntington’s move of constructing collective ontologies out of disparate forces. For Hardt and Negri, these collective ontologies are “Empire” and “the multitude.” Another good example is Wallerstein’s work, which constructs the collective ontologies of core, periphery, and semi-periphery.

Suggested reading
F. Cardoso and E. Faletto (1979) Dependency and Development in Latin America. Berkeley: University of California Press. Andre Gunder Frank (1969) Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America. New York: Monthly Review Press. Louis Hartz (1955) The Liberal Tradition in America. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Robert Packenham (1973) Liberal America and the Third World: Political Development Ideas in Foreign Aid and Social Science. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Immanuel Wallerstein (1974) The Modern World-System. New York: Academic Press. Immanuel Wallerstein (1995) Historical Capitalism with Capitalist Civilisation. London: Verso, especially pp. 68 and 71–2. Immanuel Wallerstein (2002) “Revolts Against the System,” New Left Review, 18: 29–39.



Topic 2 Critiques of identity
With the rise of postmodernism, identity and difference have been the subjects of what Jacques Derrida terms “deconstruction.” Yet identity remains a difficult category to displace, as Stuart Hall explains. And so there is no shortage of literature debating the necessities and impossibilities of identity. In the light of Huntington’s myth, a good way to focus these debates would be around the questions of postcolonial identity (Homi Bhabha), racial identity (Frantz Fanon), and multicultural identity (Slavo Zizek).

Suggested reading
Homi K. Bhabha (1990) “Interrogating Identity: The Post Colonial Prerogative,” in D.T. Goldberg (ed.) Anatomy of Racism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 118–209. Jacques Derrida (1991) “Differance,” in P. Kampuf (ed.) A Derrida Reader: Between the Blinds. Brighton: Harvester Wheatsheaf, pp. 60–7. Frantz Fanon (1991) “The Negro and Psychopathology,” in Black Skins, White Mask. London: Pluto, pp. 141–209. Stuart Hall (1996) “Introduction: Who Needs ‘Identity’?,” in Stuart Hall and Paul du Gay (eds) Questions of Cultural Identity. London: Sage, pp. 1–17. Slavo Zizek (1997) “Multiculturalism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism,” New Left Review 225: 28–52.

Samuel P. Huntington is not only concerned with “the problem of cultural difference” between states and civilizations but with “the problem of cultural difference” within states. In particular, Huntington’s most recent obsession is with the cultural differences within the United States, specifically between “black and white American natives” (Huntington, 2004: 32) whose core language is English and whose core culture is “Anglo-Protestant” (2004: 32) and predominantly Catholic, non-Anglo Hispanics. As Huntington so alarmingly puts it, “In this new era [now], the single most immediate and most serious challenge to America’s traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially from Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigratns compared to black and white American natives” (2004: 32). Not only does Huntington’s construction of the United States erase (among others) native Americans and replace them with Anglo-Protestants; it also casts Mexican immigration as the newest threat to US national/cultural security. This is because, from Huntington’s point of view, a large number of Mexican immigrates are not only coming to the United States; they are failing to integrat in US culture. And “in the long run”, Huntington warns us, “ . . . numbers are power, particularly in a multicultural society, a political democracy, and a consumer economy” (2004: 44).



Many have pointed out that Huntington’s construction of the threat of Mexican immigration to the US seems to be in stark contrast with what he wrote about the so-called “clash of civilizations.” The Guardian reporter Dan Glaister goes so far as to wonder if Huntington “even bother[ed] to re-read The Clash of Civilizations before enbarking on his latest tome. In the earlier book, he concluded, somewhat perplexingly, that “the cultural distance between Mexico and the United States is far less than that between Turkey and Europe,” and that “Mexico has attempted to redefine itself from a Latin American to a North American identity” (March 15, 2004). All this leads Glaister to conclude that “Either a lot has changed in Huntington’s mind in the intervening eight years, or in searching for new sport he simply chose not to worry too much about the detail” (March 15, 2004). Yet considered through Huntington’s on-going preoccupation with “the problem of cultural difference”, how this might threaten the security of the sovereign nation-state (particularly the US), and how culturally complex states complicate and compromise Huntington’s desire for state identity to be coterminous with cultural identity, it is not that difficult to square Huntington’s myth “there is a clash of civilizations” with his newly emerging myth that “unintegrated Mexican immigrates are the new threat to US culture.” This is not only the case because Huntington’s clash of civilizations myth is full of hedges about what civilizations are, where their boundaries lie, and how these boundaries and identities shift. More importantly, it is because (as we saw) Huntington’s larger project has always been about protecting the US from cultural difference. His clash of civilizations thesis might be regarded as a traditionally cast “international” expression of how to cope with this problem, while his emerging myth about the threat of unitegrated Mexican immigrats into the US is a more “domestically” inflected expression of how to cope with this same problem. When teaching Huntington’s work, then, it is important not to jump to the conclusion that his 1993 essay and his 2004 essay are opposed to one another but rather to bring out the ways in which they compliment Huntington’s larger project and his underlying desire to yet again equate identity with stability and difference with instability.




What does it all mean?

How IR theory makes sense of the world Making sense of IR theory The politics of the popular Where does all of this leave us?

178 182 185 187



So far, we have concerned ourselves with how meanings are produced, mythologized, circulated, and contested in, through, and as culture, ideology, and IR theory. We’ve done this by thinking broadly about culture and ideology and then using what we have learned about these concepts to consider what makes some of the stories IR theory tells about the world appear to be true. How we have done this is by focusing on what I have called IR myths, apparent truths on which IR traditions rely in order to appear to be true. And we have considered the relationships among IR theory, IR traditions, and IR myths by consulting not only classic statements in the IR literature but popular ideas about international politics and everyday life found in popular films. This is what we have done. But why have we done it? What is at stake in this exercise of rethinking IR theory through culture, ideology, mythology, and popular film? What does it all mean? I will address these questions by raising two more: how does IR theory make sense of the world? and what does IR theory say is typical and deviant in that world? Addressing these questions will allow me to consider how our IR myths work not only individually but together. And this will lead us to a discussion of the politics of IR theory, of “the popular,” and of storytelling generally.

How IR theory makes sense of the world
Up to this point, we have analyzed how IR theory makes sense of the world by asking questions about the stories told through individual IR myths. But what if we take our questions about sense-making and storytelling and apply them to IR theory as a whole? Then we will get an idea of how our individual IR myths work together – not only as a set of individual stories about international politics but as a general framework for storytelling. To do this, let’s return to those two questions that have guided us through our individual myths and recast them for IR theory generally: 1 2 How does IR theory make sense of the world? What does IR theory say is typical and deviant in that world?

Mainstream IR theory (represented by realism, idealism, and Wendtian constructivism) makes sense of the world by focusing on specific actors, contexts, and interactions. As our first three myths tell us, the actors that matter in international politics are sovereign nation-states. According to realist, idealist, and constructivist myths, sovereign nation-states may just exist (as they seem to for realists and idealists) or their identities and interests may be the effects of practices (as constructivists claim). But in mainstream IR theory, both claims amount to the same thing. States are the fundamental actors in international politics, and all analysis of important events must begin and end with states. The context in which states interact for mainstream IR theorists is not “international politics” broadly defined but the tightly theorized realm of international anarchy. All mainstream IR theorists agree on the importance of international anarchy for understanding international politics. Debates and disagreements about



the nature of anarchy (what it is “really” like) and the effects of anarchy (what anarchy makes states do) only serve to underscore the importance that mainstream IR theorists attach to it. Finally, mainstream IR theorists concern themselves with sovereign nationstates in a situation of international anarchy because they are worried about a specific set of international interactions. These international interactions are found in what is often called the world of “high politics,” a world that focuses on diplomatic practices, on wars among sovereign nation-states, and increasingly on international economic issues like globalization. Other international interactions pale in comparison to the “serious” questions of war and peace and the “serious” activities undertaken by statespeople to confront and possibly resolve these issues (see Table 9.1). As we read through the concerns and considerations of mainstream IR theory, we quickly notice that Jones’s, Fukuyama’s, and Huntington’s myths also meet all of these criteria. While this might at first strike us as surprising, it shouldn’t. Let’s consider each of these authors in turn. Jones is in some ways the least straightforward mainstream mythologizer, because his myth “gender is a variable” seems to honor and expand the place of gender studies in IR theory. Yet as we saw in Chapter 5, the effect of Jones’s myth is to protect the classical tradition of IR theory from feminist challenges. In so doing, it enables mainstream IR theory to carry on making myths about sovereign nationstates, anarchy, and diplomatic practice. In Fukuyama’s case, his myth “it is the end of history” does not only describe the “triumph” of liberal capitalism in an era of so-called globalization. It also seeks to explain questions of war and peace. So it divides the anarchical world of international politics into two – liberal sovereign nation-states in post-history and not-yet-liberal sovereign nation-states in history. And then it claims that wars will occur between liberal and not-yet-liberal states as well as among not-yet-liberal states, until the ideal of liberalism manifests itself in all states. So, even though he got there differently, Fukuyama fits in with mainstream IR concerns. Similarily, so too does Huntington. Like Fukuyama, Huntington relies not on realism or idealism or some supposed bridge between them to describe contemporary conflict. He instead goes back to the tenets of modernization and development theory. But remember that modernization and development theory’s roots are in fighting the Cold War. Security has always been a hidden agenda of this tradition. All that Huntington’s work has done and continues to do is accentuate the security agenda of modernization and development theory. And so sovereign nationstates, anarchy, and states at war in anarchy are of as much concern to Huntington as they are to Waltz, Kegley, and Wendt.
Table 9.1 How does IR theory make sense of the world? Actors Context Interactions Sovereign nation-states International anarchy Practices of states and statespeople to confront and possibly resolve questions of war and peace



Of the theorists we considered, it is only Hardt and Negri who examine war and peace in a non-traditional way. Hardt and Negri make three non-traditional claims. First, sovereign nation-states matter less than the logic of Empire. Second, Empire is not just the new world order; it is the new world orderer. So anarchy myths are beside the point. And, third, this means that explanations of war and peace among sovereign nation-states in a situation of international anarchy are trivial compared with explanations of the logic of Empire and the multitude’s resistances to it. What this discussion suggests is that one would be hard pressed to find an IR theorist who does not take seriously questions of war and peace or of conflict more generally. But it also suggests that it is not hard to find IR theorists who contest the terms in which these questions are asked. One of the reasons for this is because, as mainstream IR theorists tell their stories about international politics and construct a template through which all “serious” stories about IR theory must be told (must focus on states, anarchy, and diplomatic practice), they are (as we have seen in our individual IR myths) proscribing what is typical and deviant in the world of international politics and in the culture of IR theory. While mainstream IR theorists are happy to discuss what is typical and deviant in their world of international politics, they are less comfortable with interrogating the mainstream (dominant) culture of IR theory. So, for example, following on from how IR theorists make sense of the world (through states, anarchy, and diplomatic practice), IR theorists come up with some compelling “truths” about the world of international politics. What is typical and deviant in this world in some ways depends on which tradition of IR theory one subscribes to (realism, idealism, constructivism). For realists, the harsh realities of international life mean we will never overcome conflict among sovereign nationstates because we will never escape international anarchy (Chapter 2). Or, in Huntington’s terms, we will never solve the problem of security under anarchy in relation to development among clashing civilizations (Chapter 8). For idealists, we might escape conflict either by moving out of international anarchy into an international hierarchy led by a world government, or we may escape conflict by mitigating state behavior through an international society (Chapter 3). Or, in Fukuyama’s terms, we will escape the conflicts of anarchy when all sovereign nation-states become liberal, post-historical states (Chapter 6). For constructivists, international outcomes are unclear. They will be conflictual (as realists claim) or cooperative (as idealists claim) depending on what states make of anarchy (Chapter 4). Yet while mainstream IR theorists cannot agree on what is typical and deviant within their general framework of states, anarchy, and diplomatic practice, critics of mainstream IR theory have no trouble showing what their general theoretical framework for analysis makes typical and deviant in IR theory. Not only does mainstream IR theory unduly confine analysis of international politics to questions about states, anarchy, and diplomatic/policy practices. In so doing, it is also typically ethnocentric, racist, classist, and sexist. The North American centrism of mainstream IR theory begins with the nationalities of its authors, all of whom are North American, and this tells us something about which authors matter in the discipline of international relations (they are also all male, middle or upper class, and all but one is white). But, of course, an author’s own subject position does not doom him or her to write from that position



alone. Yet we find ethnocentric and other biases reproduced in our individual IR myths. Kegley’s myth “there is an international society” is among the examples of ethnocentrism, for in this myth Kegley seems to mistake post-Cold War US hegemony for an international society (Chapter 3). Fukuyama’s myth is another example. The liberalism that he so staunchly defends and supports the spread of globally is an Anglo-American centric ideology, the power politics of which is never discussed (Chapter 6). And, of course, however much Huntington claims to give agency to “the rest” of the world, his “clash of civilizations” myth reads “the rest” primarily as a problem for “the West.” Race is another concept that seems to drop out of traditional IR theory. It seems to be assumed that the world of IR theory and international politics, like the world of most of the authors of our IR myths, is a white world. And white is taken as a non-race, as beyond race (Dyer, 1997). This may explain why few of our myths explicitly address race. Samuel Huntington and Francis Fukuyama (our one nonwhite theorist) both bring race into play in their theories, but they do so in ways that preserve the centrality of white cultures at the expense of non-white ones (Ling, 2000; Said, 2001). Class is another of those concepts that sits uncomfortably in relation to mainstream IR theory. This is not surprising for two reasons. First, all of our authors writing in defense of mainstream IR theory are North American (and all but one is US), and second, class has never been a concept that has been terribly well interrogated in the USA. Most US citizens of whatever economic or social group would call themselves “middle class.” Because of this, class often drops out of everyday and academic analyses. It is no exception in our mainstream IR myths. Nowhere is there any consideration of either economic or social classes (or even categories) within states, nor is there an analysis of classes of states (see Wallerstein, 1974, 1980, 1989). Worse still, myths like Fukuyama’s “it is the end of history” with its positive spin on globalization obscure class relations within and among sovereign nation-states, making any analysis of them all the more difficult (Chapter 6). If class is not considered in IR theory, then analysis of the power relations that keep some people, groups, and states “upper class” in international politics (like being “great powers” or a hegemon) and other states in the “lower class” of international politics (like “Third World” or “post-colonial” states) will not find its way into core IR myths. It is only Hardt and Negri’s myth of Empire, written from a non-mainstream, (neo)Marxist perspective, that gives any serious consideration to class. Finally, mainstream IR theory is gendered, and its gender is primarily masculine. Jones’s lament aside (Chapter 5), IR theory has traditionally taken masculinely engendered bodies and activities to be its objects of analysis, whether those gendered bodies/activities are (borrowing the title from Waltz’s book) men, states, or war. Whether looking to realism or idealism, the theories of “human” nature that IR theorists draw on as building blocks of their theories about individuals, states, and their interactions are theories about the “nature” of man (Chapter 2). As a result, not only are individuals gendered in IR theory. So too do we find “gendered states” (Peterson, 1992) and gendered activities like war (masculine) and peace (feminine) (Elshtain, 1987). And, as a reading of Jones’s myth through Fatal Attraction highlights, when relationships among gendered bodies are considered by mainstream IR theorists, they seem to be exclusively heterosexual (Weber, 1999).


CONCLUSION Table 9.2 What is typical and deviant for IR theory? Typical • • • • North American centric Racist Classist Masculinist Deviant To defy or question the terms in which IR theory tells stories about international politics

Taken together, mainstream IR theory makes sense of the world by focusing on states, anarchy, and diplomatic practice in ways that draw on a particularly biased way of thinking about place, race, class, and sex. All of this is typical of mainstream IR theory. And if this is what is typical of mainstream IR theory, then it is easy to see how theories of international politics that defy and/or question the terms in which IR theory tells its stories about the world are labeled deviant. How Jones does this to feminist IR theory is the most elaborated example in this text (Chapter 5). Other examples are how constructivism constructs post-structuralism as deviant (Chapter 4) and how liberal theories of globalization construct historical materialism as deviant (Chapter 6). (See Table 9.2.) This is not to suggest that feminism, poststructuralism, and historical materialism are free of any bias. These alternative perspectives on international politics depend on their own mythologized understandings of the world, and their myths often employ the same or similar types of exclusions that mainstream IR theory does. For example, as we saw in Chapter 7, Hardt and Negri’s myth “Empire is the new world order” must exclude by selectively remembering what postmodern theorists say about ontology/agency and resistance in order to appear to be true. The point, however, is that these alternative perspectives make some of the same “mistakes” as traditional IR theory in different ways – ways which challenge the postulates for storytelling found in mainstream IR theory. It is for this reason – and not because they are themselves “true stories” – that these alternative takes on international politics are “deviant” from the perspective of traditional IR theory.

Making sense of IR theory
If this is how IR theory makes sense of the world – both the world of international politics and the world of IR theory – then how do we make sense of IR theory? What does all of this tell us about how IR theory relates to culture, ideology, mythology and popular media like film? And, most crucially, where is the politics in all of this? The argument put forward in this book is that IR theory is a site of cultural practice. It is a place where stories that make sense of our world are spun, where signifying practices about international politics take place, where meanings about international life are produced, reproduced, and exchanged. We have seen all of this illustrated in our seven IR myths. Each of them makes sense of the world by telling a particular story about international politics. When we read these myths together (as we did in the last section), we find that IR theory is a site of cultural practice not



only because it provides us with “an ensemble of stories” we tell about international politics (Geertz, 1975: 448). More importantly, IR theory is a site of cultural practice because it provides a framework for storytelling itself. Culturally, IR theory tells us not only what makes sense about the world of international politics out there, but also tells us which stories in the realm of international theory we should take seriously in classrooms and at conferences and in policy meetings. What this means is that how IR theory makes sense of the world through the stories it tells about international politics (either via specific myths like “international anarchy is the permissive cause of war” or through broader traditions like realism) is already indebted to the template for storytelling that these IR myths and IR theories depend on in order to appear to be meaningful, serious, and important. This has unsettling implications for mainstream IR theory. For what it means is that we cannot understand international politics by adopting an IR tradition as our guide or by memorizing IR’s sacred myths. This is because IR traditions and myths are both products of and productive of IR theory as a cultural site where “giving and taking of meaning” (Hall, 1997: 2) about international politics and about IR theory itself occurs. In other words, IR theory as a model for storytelling has already restricted what international politics can mean as it is narrated by IR traditions and IR myths. When we investigate IR theory as a site of culture, we find ideological practices at work. Reading our IR myths together as we did in the last section, we quickly spotted several named ideologies at work – ethnocentrism, racism, classism, and (hetero)sexism. These are the sorts of ideologies we have long been trained to look for. But another purpose of this text has been to demonstrate how ideologies work in less familiar ways that are more difficult to identify. They work, for example, through not only what we can name and say (conscious ideologies) but also through what we cannot name and what goes without saying (unconscious ideologies; Barthes, 1972: 11). And, arguably, it is unconscious ideologies that are the most powerful. Since they are so difficult to identify, they are all the more difficult to examine critically. When they crop up in IR theory, I call these unconscious or unnamed ideologies IR myths. They are apparent truths, usually expressed as a slogan, that an IR theory or tradition relies on in order to appear to be true. They seem to be so true, so right on, so correct about the world of international politics that, to those adhering to the tradition that employs them, IR myths describe just the way things are. For a realist, international anarchy is the permissive cause of war. For an idealist, there is an international society. For a Wendtian constructivist, anarchy is what states make of it. And so on. But, as I have tried to point out, international politics is a lot more complicated than this. So how do IR traditions still get away with relying on so many ideological positions as if they were not ideological positions but factually described the world as it is? They get away with it because, as I have suggested, these ideological positions are mythologized. They are transformed from what is seen to be “cultural” and constructed into what is taken to be natural and therefore goes without saying. IR myths become habitual ways of thinking about the world of international politics. We traced how the myth function in IR theory works by examining our individual IR myths. Ideologies are mythologized in IR theory by making sure what



must go without saying in order for a myth to appear to be true is either deferred or displaced. Deferral means that the knowledge about the myth as a myth is delayed so much that we never receive it. Displacement means that the knowledge about a myth as a myth is placed beyond the bounds of our consideration. Some myths defer knowledge (we must never know that liberalism’s empty core contradicts our desire for the good life or that fear is what makes us believe either in international anarchy as the permissive cause of war or in international society as what will unify us in cooperation). Other myths work through displacement (“authors” must be placed behind productive practices so that they appear to be the producers of these practices, and gender must be placed within a variable so that feminist concerns can be placed outside the bounds of the discipline of IR). And, more often than not, deferral and displacement work together, even if one of them dominates. This is what we see happening in the individual stories we read about IR theory. But what about IR theory as a whole? Is there a myth function to IR theory itself, greater than the sum of its individual IR myths? And, if so, how does it work? What does it defer or displace? Just as individual IR myths tend to work at the level of stories, IR theory more generally works at the level of framing those stories. As a site of cultural practices, IR theory provides not just the stories about international politics but the framework which makes these stories meaningful, serious, and important. And it is this grid, this support, this basis for storytelling that goes without saying in IR theory itself – that it is reasonable, rational, and objective to narrate stories about IR theory which focus almost exclusively on sovereign nation-states in anarchy and the “high political” practices their interactions give rise to. This is the “Truth” of IR theory that makes other IR “truths” possible. And, like any truth, this one may not be as true as it appears to be. For, as we have already seen, this premise for storytelling is indebted to numerous ideological positions, some of which are named and others of which are more difficult to name. So, somewhere along the line, IR theory itself underwent (and is always really undergoing) a mythologizing function so that its framework for analysis appears to be natural, neutral and common sense rather than cultural, ideological, and in need of critical analysis. What does this mean, then, that IR theory itself defers or displaces? Simple. It defers and displaces any knowledge that its stories and most importantly its framework for telling stories are mythologized. IR theory defers and displaces the myth function itself. How does it do this? IR theory does this by placing critical examinations of IR theory beyond the bounds of meaningful, serious, and important IR theory. This should not surprise us. For indeed, if IR theory did not do this, it could not function. Its myth function – both in terms of the specific stories it tells and in terms of its template for telling these stories – might be exposed. While exposing the myth function in IR theory would not put an end to it (for we never escape culture and ideology), it may temporarily disrupt it. And if IR theory’s myth function is disrupted, then this might open up new possibilities for uncharted stories about international politics to be told. This would be a terrible threat to traditional IR theory. (See Table 9.3.)


CONCLUSION Table 9.3 IR theory’s myth function What IR theory defers IR theory defers the myth function itself How IR theory defers it By (dis)placing criticism of IR theory beyond the bounds of IR theory. Critique of IR theory does not count as serious IR theory itself

The politics of the popular
If exploring the myth function in IR theory is such a serious undertaking, then why have I carried it out by reading IR theory through a medium that lacks the status of serious – popular film? Hopefully, reading IR theory through popular film is more interesting and entertaining than it otherwise would be. And, for some, that might be reason enough for using films. But there are more important and indeed terribly serious reasons for using popular films (or other popular media that tell stories). One reason for rethinking IR theory through popular film is that films bring the story aspects of IR theory into relief. We are accustomed to viewing films as narratives about specific worlds. We are less accustomed to viewing IR theory in this way. But, by pairing IR traditions and IR myths with a popular film, the drama, story points, flow, links, lapses, and effects of action are all easier to see. Another reason for pairing IR theories with popular films is because popular films present all this drama and trauma to us in contained spatial and temporal locations. They offer us up worlds that are familiar enough for us to relate to (like 1980s New York City in Fatal Attraction or 1990s Los Angeles in Wag the Dog) without actually being those places. This is another reason why we can relate to popular films and relate them back to IR theory. So, selecting popular films as a medium through which to revisit IR theory makes sense in part because popular films enable us to access what IR theory says, how it plots its story, and how all this together gives us a particular vision of the world. In effect, then, using popular film to help us think about IR theory seems to work because of some of the similarities between how films tell stories and how IR theory tells stories. But even when we read IR theory through popular film, we assume that the kinds of stories told by IR theory and those told by popular film differ in important ways. The stories IR theory tells are supposedly “true” stories. In contrast, popular films offer us stories that we know to be fictional. This is why the stories told in IR theory are taken seriously, whereas those in popular film are so often regarded as frivolous. We assume that popular films offer us escapes from reality, whereas IR theory confronts us with the hard facts about the world. And so, like mainstream IR theorists, we generally place IR theory in the realm of “high culture” and “high politics” while we place popular film in the realm of “low culture” and “low politics.” It might be fun to see how the realities of international life might be dramatized in popular films, but, as mainstream IR theorists warn us, we should guard against



taking these dramatizations too seriously. They are not part of the “cut and thrust” of international politics or of IR theory. Or are they? Each of the IR myths we have looked at is paired with a popular film. In some cases this is because the film plays out the plot of an IR theory (as in the cases of Lord of the Flies and Independence Day). But while parallel plots might be one reason for the pairing of films and myths in some cases, in every case films and myths are paired because they produce and circulate the same myth. The myth we find about anarchy in Waltz’s books Man, the State, and War and Theory of International Politics is the same myth we find in the film Lord of the Flies. The myth we find about the author function in Wendt’s essay “Anarchy is What States Make of it” is the same myth we find in the film Wag the Dog. The myth we find in Fukuyama’s essay “The End of History?” is the same myth we find in the film The Truman Show. And on and on. If the same myths we find in serious IR theory are also at play in shallow popular films, then what does this mean for each of these mythologized sites and the relationship between them? Are films more serious then we at first thought? Is IR theory more trivial than we dared to imagine? Does this pairing of the “popular” and the “serious” transform them both? If so, where do we now locate “high culture” and “high politics” and “low culture” and “low politics”? Pairing “serious” IR theory with “superficial” popular films suggests that IR theory may not be located in the realm of “truth” and “reality” any more than popular films are. Maybe IR theory is just a bunch of stories that, like popular films, mixes and mythologizes fact and fiction. And since the stories and myths we find in IR theory are often the same ones we find in popular films, then this pairing of IR theory and film shows that the meanings IR theory uses to make sense of the world are not only produced and circulated in traditional academic “high cultural” realms but in popular “low cultural” locations as well. If the work of propagating and circulating IR myths occurs in popular films as well as in IR theories, then neglecting this realm of “low politics” in our attempts to come to grips with how the world works would be a mistake. We must interrogate IR theory as a site of cultural practice wherever it occurs – in classic IR texts, in classrooms, and in more popular sites of culture like film, literature, art, and television. Maybe popular films do a lot more political work than we at first credited them with doing. Not only do they illustrate (and sometimes overtly critique) the stories found in IR myths by circulating similar (or different) myths. Popular films tell us “too much” about IR theory. They also tell us how IR myths function. They do this by showing us what must go without saying in order for a myth to appear to be true. And, most importantly, popular films dramatize for us how what must go without saying is kept in the place of non-knowledge through strategies of deferral and displacement. That’s a heck of a lot of work for a frivolous medium to do! (See Box 9.1.) But if popular films do a lot of serious political work by de-mythologizing and re-politicizing IR myths (Barthes, 1972), then why are investigations of popular films so often relegated to the nether regions of the negligible by IR theorists – to “mere” cultural studies or film theory which they take to be superficial and therefore unimportant? One answer might be because IR theorists simply do not yet appreciate how the popular functions politically in relation to international politics



Box 9.1 Why pair IR theory with popular films?
1 2 3 Films bring IR theory’s story points into relief Films offer us contained, nearly parallel worlds in which to critically rethink IR theory IR myths and popular films produce and circulate similar myths. Therefore, we must analyze the popular in order to understand IR myths and international politics Pairing popular films with serious IR theory exposes IR theory as a mythologized mix of fact and fiction Popular films dramatize the myth function of IR theory and how what must go without saying is deferred and displaced

4 5

and international theory. Because they don’t appreciate it, they don’t take it seriously. For this reason, these sorts of IR theorists simply ignore popular cultural phenomena. A more cynical answer might be because IR theorists do recognize how the popular functions politically in relation to international politics and international theory. They sense how the popular might function resistively and disruptively in relation to cherished IR traditions and the IR myths that make them appear to be true. And they recognize that taking the popular seriously might challenge the very framework through which IR theory tells its stories about international politics. For this reason, these sorts of IR theorists might work to defer a widespread appreciation of what the popular might do to IR theory, and they might work to replace the popular in the realm of the frivolous, before the popular displaces IR theory from the realm of the serious. And, of course, there is a third reason why IR theorists might not take the political power of the popular seriously. They might be so taken in by their own mythologized ways of viewing the relationship between the political and the popular that they can no longer imagine this relationship differently. This is why, for these theorists, the popular belongs in a different realm from the political. Whether by neglect, by design, or by deplacement, the politics of the popular is among the most undervalued and therefore underanalyzed aspects of international politics. And this is a grave oversight for both mainstream and critical IR theorists. For the popular poses a significant challenge to IR’s cherished cultural practices.

Where does all of this leave us?
So, where does all of this leave us? Hopefully, it leaves us knowing “too much” about IR theory and IR myths – not because of what they say but because of what they do culturally and politically. Indeed, thinking about IR theory as a site of cultural practice through formal, academic cultural practices like writing IR theories and myths and through less formal cultural practices like popular films has demonstrated that all



cultural sites are powerful arenas in which political struggles take place. And, maybe most importantly, this way of rethinking IR theory has helped us to rethink the relationship between culture and politics. Culture is not opposed to politics. Culture is political, and politics is cultural. What this means is that the cultural stories all of us tell – whether in film, in IR theory, or in everyday life – are political. Knowing how stories function – what makes them appear to be true – gives us the means to both critique and create politically powerful stories.



Almond, Gabriel A. and G. Bingham Powell Jr (1978) Comparative Politics: Systems, Processes, and Policy, 2nd edition. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co. Althusser, Louis (1969) For Marx. London: Allen Lane. Antze, Paul and Michael Lambek (eds) (1996) Tense Past: Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory. New York: Routledge. Ashley, Richard K. (1984) “The Poverty of Neorealism,” International Organization 38(2): 225–86. Ashley, Richard K. (1989) “Living on Borderlines: Man, Poststructuralism and War,” in James Der Derian and Michael Shapiro (eds) International/Intertextual Relations: Postmodern Readings of World Politics. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books. Ball, Terrance and Richard Dagger (1995) Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideal, 2nd edition. New York: Harper Collins. Barkawi, Tarak and Mark Laffey (2002) “Retrieving the Imperial: Empire and International Relations,” Millennium 31(1): 109–27. Barthes, Roland (1972) Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers. New York: Noonday Press. Barthes, Roland (1974) S/Z: An Essay, trans. Richard Miller. New York: Hill and Wang. Baudrillard, Jean (1987) Seduction, trans. Brian Singer. New York: St Martin’s Press. Baylis, John and Steve Smith (eds) (1997) The Globalization of World Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Beitz, Charles (1999) Political Theory and International Relations, revised edition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Bennett, Jane and Michael J. Shapiro (2002) The Politics of Moralizing. New York: Routledge. Bhabha, Homi K. (1990) “Interrogating Identity: The Post Colonial Prerogative,” in D.T. Goldberg (ed.) Anatomy of Racism. Minneapolis: Univeristy of Minnesota Press, pp. 118–209. Biersteker, Thomas and Cynthia Weber (eds) (1996) State Sovereignty as Social Construct. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Blaney, David L. and Naeem Inayatullah (2002) “Neo-Modernizations? IR and the Inner Life of Modernizations Theory,” European Journal of International Relations 8(4): 103–37. Bleiker, Roland (1997) “Forget IR Theory,” Alternatives 22(1): 57–85.


Bull, Hedley (1987) The Anarchical Society. London: Macmillian. Bush, George W. (2001a) “Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People,” United States Capitol, Washington, DC, September 20, http: // Bush, George W. (2001b) “‘Islam is Peace’ Says President,” Remarks by the President at Islamic Center, Washington, DC, http: // Buzan, Barry, Charles Jones, and Richard Little (1993) The Logic of Anarchy: Neorealism to Structural Realism. New York: Columbia University Press. Callinicos, Alex (2002) “The Actuality of Imperialism,” Millennium 31(2): 319–26. Campbell, David (1999) Writing Security, revised edition. Minneapolis: University of Minnestoa Press. Cardoso, F. and E. Faletto (1979) Dependency and Development in Latin America. Berkeley: University of California Press. Carroll, Berenice (1972) “Peace Research: The Cult of Power,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 16(4): 585–616. Carver, Terrell (1996) Gender is Not a Synonym for Women. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. Carver, Terrell, Molly Cochran, and Judith Squires (1998) “Gendering Jones: Feminisms, IRs, and Masculinities,” Review of International Studies 24(2): 283–97. Conlon, James (1996) “The Place of Passion: Reflections on Fatal Attraction,” in Barry Keith Grant (ed.) The Dread of Difference: Gender and the Horror Film. Austin: University of Texas Press, pp. 401–11. Connell, Robert W. (1995) Masculinities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Debrix, François (1999) Reinvisioning Peacekeeping: The United Nations and the Mobilization of Ideology. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Debrix, François (2003) “Tabloid Realism and the Space of American Security Culture,” Geopolitics 8(3): 151–90. Debrix, François and Cynthia Weber, (eds) (2003) Rituals of Mediation: International Politics and Social Meanings. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. De Certeau, Michel (1988) The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven F. Rendall. Berkeley: University of California Press. Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (1987) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. B. Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Derrida, Jacques (1991) “Differance,” in P. Kampuf (ed.) A Derrida Reader: Between the Blinds. Brighton: Harvester Wheatsheaf, pp. 60–7. Doty, Roxanne (1996) Imperial Encounters: The Politics of Representation in North–South Relations. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Dyer, Richard (1985) “Taking Popular Television Seriously,” in David Lusted and Phillip Drummond (eds) TV and Schooling. London: British Film Institute, pp. 41–6. Dyer, Richard (1997) White. London: Routledge. Edkins, Jenny (1999) Poststructuralism and International Relations: Bringing the Political Back In. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. Edkins, Jenny (2003) Trauma and the Memory of Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Elshtain, Jean Bethke (1987) Women and War. New York: Basic Books. Enloe, Cynthia (1989) Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. Berkeley: University of California Press. Ermarth, Elizabeth Deeds (1992) Sequel to History: Postmodernism and the Crisis of Representational Time. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Fanon, Frantz (1991) “The Negro and Psychopathology,” in Black Sins, White Mask. London: Pluto, pp. 141–209.


Foucault, Michel (1980) Power/Knowledge, trans. C. Gordon, L. Marshall, J. Mepham, and K. Soper. Hemel Hampstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf. Foucault, Michel (1984) “What is an Author?,” in Paul Rabinow (ed.) The Foucault Reader. New York: Pantheon, pp. 101–20. Foucault, Michel (1990) The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin. Fukuyama, Francis (1989) “The End of History?,” The National Interest 16(Summer): 2–18. Fukuyama, Francis (1992) The End of History and the Last Man. London: Hamish Hamilton. Geertz, Clifford (1975) The Interpretation of Cultures. London: Hutchinson. George, Jim (1994) Discourses of Global Politics: A Critical (Re)Introduction to International Relations. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. Gilpin, Robert (1983) War and Change in World Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Glaister, Dan (2004) “On the border of disaster?” March 15,,3858,4879842-103680,00.html Grant, Rebecca and Kathleen Newland (eds) (1991) Gender and International Relations. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Gunder Frank, Andre (1969) Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America. New York: Monthly Review Press. Hall, Stuart (1996) “Introduction: Who Needs ‘Identity’?,” in Stuart Hall and Paul du Gay (eds) Questions of Cultural Identity. London: Sage, pp. 1–17. Hall, Stuart (ed.) (1997) Representations: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri (2000) Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Hartz, Louis (1955) The Liberal Tradition in America. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Hay, Colin and David Marsh (eds) (2000) Demystifying Globalization. New York: St Martin’s Press. Herod, Andrew, GearHero Tuathail, and Susan M. Roberts (eds) (1998) An Unruly World? Globalization, Governance, and Geography. London: Routledge. Hirst, Paul and Grahame Thompson (1996) Globalization in Question. Cambridge: Polity Press. Hoberman, J. (2001) “Persistence of Memory,” March 12, http: // Huntington, Samuel P. (1968) Political Order in Changing Societies. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Huntington, Samuel P. (1993) “The Clash of Civilizations?,” Foreign Affairs 72 (summer): 22–49. Huntington, Samuel P. (2004) “The Hispanic Challenge,” Foreign Policy (March/April): 30–45. Independent Focus (2000) Interview of Director Christopher Nolan by Elvis Mitchell. Special Feature of Memento DVD, Remember Productions. Jackson, Robert (1990) Quasi-States: Sovereignty, International Relations and the Third World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jameson, Fredric and Masao Miyoshi (eds) (1998) The Cultures of Globalization. Chapel Hill, NC: Duke University Press. Jones, Adam (1996) “Does ‘Gender’ Make the World Go Round? Feminist Critiques of International Relations,” Review of International Studies 22(4): 405–29. Jones, Adam (1998) “Engendering Debate,” Review of International Studies 24(2): 299–303. Kegley, Charles W., Jr (1993) “The Neoidealist Moment in International Studies? Realist


Myths and the New International Realities,” International Studies Quarterly 37(June): 131–46. Kegley, Charles W., Jr (ed.) (1995) “The Neoliberal Challenge to Realist Theories of World Politics: An Introduction,” in Charles W. Kegley Jr. Controversies in International Relations Theory: Realism and the Neoliberal Challenge. New York: St Martin’s Press. Keohane, Robert O. (1984) After Hegemony. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Keohane, Robert O. (ed.) (1986) Neorealism and its Critics. New York: Columbia University Press. Keohane, Robert O. (1988) “International Institutions: Two Approaches,” International Studies Quarterly 32: 379–96. Keohane, Robert O. (1989) “International Relations Theory: Contributions of a Feminist Standpoint,” Millennium 18(2): 245–53. Kofman, Elenore and Gillian Youngs (eds) (2003) Globalization: Theory and Practice, 2nd edition. London: Continuum. Krasner, Stephen D. (ed.) (1983) International Regimes. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Kublakova, V., Nicholas Greenwood Onuf, and Paul Kowert (eds) (1998) International Relations in a Constructed World. New York: M.E. Sharpe. Lapid, Yosef and Freidrich Kratochwil (eds) (1996) The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. Leyshon, Andrew (1997) “True Stories? Global Dreams, Global Nightmares, and Writing Globalization”, in Rodger Lee and Jane Wills (eds) Geographies of Economies. London: Arnold Press, pp. 133–46. Ling, Lily (2000) “Hypermasculinity on the Rise, Again: A Response to Fukuyama on Women and World Politics,” International Feminist Journal of Politics 2(2): 277–86. MacKinnon, Catherine (1989) Toward a Feminist Theory of the State. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Marchand, Marianne (2000) “Gendered Representations of the “Global”: Reading/Writing Globalization,” in Richard Stubbs and Geoffrey R.D. Underhill (eds) Political Economy and the Changing Global Order, 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 218–28. Micklethwait, John and Adrian Wooldridge (2000) The Future Perfect: The Challenges and Hidden Promises of Globalization. New York: Times Press. Mirzoeff, Nicholas (1999) Visual Culture. London: Routledge. Modelski, George (1987) Long Cycles in World Politics. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Monaco, James (2000) How to Read a Film. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Murphy, Craig (1996) “Seeing Women, Recognizing Gender, Recasting International Relations,” International Organization 50(3): 513–38. Nardin, Terry and David Mapel (eds) (1993) Traditions of International Ethics, revised edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Onuf, Nicholas Greenwood (1989) World of Our Making. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. Onuf, Nicholas Greenwood (1999) “Worlds of Our Making: The Strange Career of Constructivism in IR,” in Donald J. Puchala (ed.) Visions of IR. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. O’Sullivan, Tim et al. (1994) Key Concepts in Communication and Cultural Studies. London: Routledge. Ó Tuathail, G. (1998) “Political Geography III: Dealing with Deterritorialization?,” Progress in Human Geography 22: 81–93. Packenham, Robert (1973) Liberal America and the Third World: Political Development Ideas in Foreign Aid and Social Science. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


Peterson, V. Spike (ed.) (1992) Gendered States: Feminist (Re)Visions of International Relations Theory. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. Pettman, Ralph (1998) “Sex, Power, and the Grail of Positive Collaboration,” in Marysia Zalewski and Jane Parpart (eds) The “Man” Question in International Relations. Boulder, CO: Westview, pp. 169–84. Rubins, James (2001) Comments made on BBC2 Newsnight, September 11, wysiwyg: //11//…ents/newsnight/newsid_1533000/1544810. stm. Ruggie, John G. (1998) Constructing the World Polity. London: Routledge. Said, Edward W. (2001) “The Clash of Ignorance,” The Nation, October 22, http: // Saper, Craig J. (1997) Artificial Mythologies: A Guide to Cultural Intervention. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Seitz, Matt Zoller (2001) Memento. New York Press on line, http: // Shapiro, Michael J. (1997) Violent Cartographies: Mapping Cultures of War. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Shapiro, Michael J. (1999) Cinematic Political Thought: Narrating Race, Nation and Gender. New York: New York University Press. Shaw, Martin (2002) “Post-Imperial and Quasi-Imperial: State and Empire in the Global Era,” Millennium 31(2): 327–36. Storey, John (1997) An Introduction to Cultural Theory and Popular Culture, 2nd edition. London: Prentice Hall. Strange, Susan (1996) The Retreat of the State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sylvester, Christine (1994) Feminist Theory and International Relations in a Postmodern Era. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tickner, J. Ann (1992) Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspectives on Achieving Global Security. New York: Columbia University Press. Walker, R.B.J. (1993) Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Walker, R.B.J. (2002) “On the Immanence/Imminence of Empire,” Millennium 31(2): 337–45. Wallerstein, Immanuel (1974, 1980, 1989) The Modern World-System, 3 vols. New York: Academic Press. Wallerstein, Immanuel (1995) Historical Capitalism with Capitalist Civilisation. London: Verso. Wallerstein, Immanuel (2002) “Revolts Against the System,” New Left Review 18: 29–39. Walt, Stephen M. (1998) “International Relations: One World, Many Theories,” Foreign Policy (Spring): 29–46. Waltz, Kenneth (1959) Man, the State and War. New York: Columbia University Press. (First published 1954.) Waltz, Kenneth (1979) Theory of International Politics. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. Waltzer, Michael (2000) Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, 3rd edition. New York: Basic Books. Weber, Cynthia (1994) “Good Girls, Little Girls, and Bad Girls: Male Paranoia in Robert Keohane’s Critique of Feminist International Relations,” Millennium 23(2): 337–49. Weber, Cynthia (1998) “Reading Martin Wight’s ‘Why is there No International Theory?’ as History”, Alternatives 23: 451–69. Weber, Cynthia (1999) Faking It: US Hegemony in a “Post-Phallic” Era. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Weber, Cynthia (2002) “Flying Planes Can Be Dangerous,” Millennium 31(1): 129–47. Weiner, Myron and Samuel P. Huntington (eds) (1987) Understanding Political Development. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co. Weldes, Jutta (1999) “Going Cultural: Star Trek, State Action, and Popular Culture,” Millennium 28(1): 117–34. Weldes, Jutta (ed.) (2003) To Seek Out New Worlds: Exploring Links between Science Fiction and World Politics. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Wendt, Alexander (1992) “Anarchy is What States Make of it: The Social Construction of Power Politics,” International Organization 46: 391–425. Reprinted in James Der Derian (ed.) (1995) International Theory: Critical Investigations. New York: New York University Press, pp. 129–77. Wendt, Alexander (1994) “Collective Identity Formation and the International State,” American Political Science Review 88(2): 384–96. Wendt, Alexander (1999) Social Theory of International Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Williams, Raymond (1983) Keywords. London: Fontana. Zalewski, Marysia (1993) “Feminist Standpoint Theory Meets International Relations Theory,” Fletcher Forum (Summer): 13–32. Zalewski, Marysia (1995) “Well, What is the Feminist Perspective on Bosnia?,” International Affairs 71(2): 339–56. Zalewski, Marysia (1999) “Where is Woman in International Relations? ‘To Return as a Woman and be Heard’,” Millennium 27: 847–67. Zalewski, Marysia and Jane Parpart (eds) (1998) The “Man” Question in International Relations. Boulder, CO: Westview. Zehfuss, Maja (2003) “Forget September 11,” Third World Quarterly 24(3): 513–28. Zizek, Slavo (1997) “Multiculturalism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism,” New Left Review 225: 28–52.



Akbar, M.J. 159 Almond, Gabriel 154 anarchy 179; definition 14 anarchy myth xviii, xix, 2, 6, 8, 9, 13–35, 38, 60, 62, 180, 183, 184; and empire 127; and fear 13–35; and human nature 17–18; and nature of states anti-globalization xv, 120, 123–49 Antze, Paul 149 arms control 39, 41 Ashley, Richard 34, 78 authoritarianism 155, 170 authorship 67–79; dead 74–9 autocracy 44–5 balance of power 22 Barkawi, Tarak 148 Barthes, Roland 4, 7, 10; postmodernized 10–11 Baudriallard, Jean 78 Baylis, John 121 Beitz, Charles 57 Bennett, Jane 57 Bhabha, Homi K. 175 Biopower 128, 129, 130, 139, 146 bipolar 22, 43 Blaney, David 153 Blieker, Roland 11 Brook, Peter 23 Bull, Headley 56 Burton, Tim 57

Bush, George W. xv, 149, 152 Buzan, Barry 34 Callinicos, Alex 148 Campbell, David 34 Capitalism 104, 105, 106, 118, 119, 120, 130 Cardoso, F. 174 Carver, Terrell 101 Castells, Manuel 130 causes of war 13–35; immediate 19–20; permissive 19–20 clash of civilizations xv, 10, 151–76, 180, 181 classism 180 181, 182, 183 Clinton administration 152 Cochran, Molly 101 Cold War 11, 15, 38, 39, 42, 43, 49, 103, 107, 162, 163, 165, 174, 179 communication in idealism 38–56; in Independence Day 46–56; in (neo)idealism 46–56 communism 105, 106, 109, 110, 111, 112, 114, 123–49, 153 Connell, Robert W. 101 conservatism 4, 5 constructivism xvii, xviii, xix, 2, 10, 59–79, 127, 178, 180, 183; contrasted with realism and idealism 67; three fundamental principles of 67 constructivist myth 59–79, 126, 180, 183, 184


INDEX cosmopolitanism 121 counter-Empire 132, 146, 148 Critical International Relations theory xviii–xx, 178–88 culture 3–4, 11, 152, 178–88; and cultural practice 182–8 Debrix, Francois 11 deconstruction 175 Deleuze, G. 125, 129, 146 democracy 43–5, 104, 155; making the world safe for 38, 45, 52; march of 40, 41 Derrida, Jacques 78, 175 dialectic 108–9; definition 108; in Empire 125–6; 132–3; in The Truman Show 116–17 domestic analogy 39–40, 43–6; critiques of 52–6 East is East xvi, xx, 9–10, 156, 163–73 ecologism 4 Edkins, Jenny 78, 149 Elshtain, Jean 100, 101 empire 60, 123–49, 180; definition 125, 127–34; as new sovereign power 128–34; as new world enemy 131, 142 empire myth xx, 10, 123–49, 180, 181, 182 empty core of liberalism 107, 111, 113, 120–1, 124, 184 end of history xvi, 10, 103–22, 131, 179, 181 English School 56 Enloe, Cynthia 101 Ermath, Elizabeth Deeds 122 ethnocentrism 180–1, 182, 183 European Union 106 evolutionary biology 154 Faletto, E. 174 Fanon, Frantz 175 fascism 106, 109, 111, 112, 114 Fatal Attraction xx, 9–10, 84, 90–100, 181, 185 feminism 4, 81–101, 182, 184; definition 82 Foucault, Michel 78, 125, 129, 146 French Revolution 108, 158 Fukuyama, Francis xv, 104, 106–13, 120–2, 124, 152, 179, 180, 181, 186 Geertz, Clifford 4 gender xvii, xviii, xix, 2, 10, 16, 181; as variable xx, 10, 81–101 gender myth 10, 81–101, 179, 184 George, Jim 78 Giddens, Anthony 78 Gilpin, Robert 122 Glaister, Dan 176 globalization xvii, xviii, xix, xx, 2, 10, 60, 103–22, 127, 129, 132, 162, 172; definitions 104 Golding, William 23, 31, 34–5 Gorbachev, M. 111 Grant, Rebecca 101 Grotius, Hugo 56 Guattari, F. 125, 129, 146 Gulf War I 47, 129, 159 Gunder Frank, Andre 174 Hall, Stuart 3, 175 Hardt, Michael xv, xvi, 123–49, 152, 162, 174, 180, 181, 182 Hartley, John 3 Hartz, Louis 174 Hay, Colin 121 Hegel 108 Herod, Andrew 121 (hetero)sexism 180, 181, 182, 183 hierarchy 20–2, 38, 39; in Independence Day 52; in Lord of the Flies 23–33 historical materialism xvii, xviii, xix, 2, 104–6, 123–49, 182 Holocaust 149 Hook, Harry 23, 35 human rights 39, 41 humanitarian intervention 39, 41 Huntington, Samuel xv, xvi, 11, 151–76, 179, 180, 181 Hussein, Saddam 159 idealism xvii, xviii, xix, 2, 6, 8, 37–57, 84, 97 178, 180, 183 identity 151–76; identity/difference debate 151–76; and immigration 175–6; multicultural 175; national 165–6; postcolonial 175; racial 175; religious 160–1, 165–6 ideology 4–6, 152, 178; anonymous 5; conscious 4, 6, 104, 183; end of 103–22; relationship to culture 6; unconscious 4–6, 104, 183 imperialism 128, 130, 148


Inayatullay, Naeem 153 Independence Day xix, 9, 38–9; 46–56, 186; and fear 52–6 international anarchy 13–35, 38, 39, 104, 112, 178–80; in constructivism 59–77; definition 18–19; in Independence Day 52–6; in Lord of the Flies 23–33 international political economy 104, 121 International Relations myths xviii, xix, 178–88; as depoliticized speech 7; definition 2, 7; myth function in 2, 6–8; myth function of 183–5; repoliticizing 7–8, 186 International Relations theory: culture of 178–88; as a framework for storytelling 183–8; how makes sense of world 178–82; making sense of 182–4; myth function of 183–5; politics of 178–88; as sight of cultural practice 4 international society myth xviii, xix, 2, 6, 9, 33, 37–57, 60, 83, 162, 180, 181, 183, 184 Islam 111, 156, 158, 159, 160, 165–6, 170, 171, 173; fundamentalism 159, 173 Jameson, Fredric 121 Jones, Adam 81–101, 179, 180, 181, 182 Jones, Charles 34 Kegley, Charles Jr. 37–57, 62, 160, 162, 179, 181 Keohane, Robert O. 33, 56, 78 Kipnis, Laura 10 Kofman, Elenore 121 Krasner, Stephen 56 Kristeva, Julia 78 Krotochwil, Friedrich 11 Laffey, Mark 148 Lambek, Micheal 149 Lapid, Yosef 11 League of Nations 38 levels of analysis 17–35, 41, 165 Lewis, Bernard 159, 160 liberalism 4, 38, 103–22, 152, 161 Little, Richard 34 Lord of the Flies xix, 9, 16, 23–33, 186; US version 34–5 MacKinnon, Catherine 87 Mahbubani, Kishore 159 Mapel, David 57 Mars Attacks! 57 Marsh, David 121 Marx, Karl 109, 124, 125, 126, 130, 147 Marxism 106, 111, 120, 124, 130, 132, 153 Marxist–Leninism 111, 112 masculinity 83–90, 96, 99, 101 means of production 18, 124 Memento xvi, xx, 9–10, 126–7, 134–48 mercantilism 121 methodology 10 Micklethwait, John 122 Mirzoeff, Nicholas 9 Miyoshi, Masao 121 Modelski, George 122 modernization and development theory xv, xvi, xx, 2, 151–76 Monaco, James 10–11 morality: in idealism 38–57; in Independence Day 47–57; in (neo)idealism 38–57 Morgenthau, Hans 16 multicultural 172 multiculturalism 156, 172, 173 multitude, the 125, 128, 130–4, 141, 142, 143, 145, 180; as counter-Empire 132, 146; definition 125, 131–4 NAFTA 106 Nardin, Terry 57 nationalism 110, 111, 112 NATO 14 Negri, Antonio xv, xvi, 123–49, 152, 162, 174, 180, 181, 182 neo(idealism) xviii, 2, 8, 9, 33, 37–57, 60, 61, 106 neoliberal xx; compared with (neo)realism 61–3 neoliberal institutionalism 56 (neo)Marxism xv, xvi, xx, 2, 10, 123–49 (neo)realism xviii, 2, 8, 9, 10, 13–35, 38, 40, 50, 60, 61; compared with neoliberalism 61–3; compared with realism 15–16 Newland, Kathleen 101 nomadism 129 O’Tauthail, Gearoid 121 Onuf, Nick 66, 77 Packenham, Robert 174 Parpart, Jane 101 Parsons, Talcott 154 Pentagon 152


Peterson, Spike V. 89–90, 99, 101 political, the 9 political resistance: in empire 123–49, 180; in postmodernism 146 politics 121; as culture 187–8; of the popular 10, 185–8; in postmodernism 146; of security 172 popular, the: politics of 10, 185–8 popular culture xx, 9 popular film: as alternative world xvi, 9; to critique IR xix–xx, 9, 185–8 post-Cold War 39, 42–57, 104, 106, 108, 109, 111, 120, 124, 127, 156, 157, 158, 160, 162, 181 post-history 103–22, 124–49 post-ideology 103–22 postmodernism xvi, xvii, xx, 10, 125–49, 182 Powell, Bingham 154 power 7, 10, 22, 66, 78, 82, 86–9, 155; of traditional IR theory 178–88 Pye, Lucian 158 racism 180–1, 182, 183 rationalism 61–79 realism xvii, xviii, xix, 2, 6, 8, 13–35, 38, 40, 50, 51, 84, 86–8, 97, 127, 178, 180, 183; compared with (neo)realism 15–16 religion 110, 151–76 religious fundamentalism 111, 112 Roberts, Susan M. 121 Rousseau, Jean-Jacque 16, 19 Rubins, James 152 Ruddick, Sara 85 Ruggie, John 77 Said, Edward 152 Saper, Craig 10–11 security dilemma 22, 32, 65–6 security studies: contemporary xx; failures of 39; for Huntington 151–76; traditional xv, xvi, 13–35, 104, 151–76, 179; for Waltz 13–35 seduction 67; in constructivism 68–79; defined 61; in Wag the Dog 68–79 self-determination 43 semiology 10 September 11 xv, 148, 149, 152, 159, 173 Shapiro, Michael 11, 57 Shaw, Martin 148 signs 10 stalinism 111 Smith, Steve 121 socialism 4, 105, 123–49 sovereign nation-state 178–9; and anarchy myth 13–35; autocratic 18; in clash of civilizations 153–76; in constructivism 59–79; definition 14, 20; democratic 18, 154; in Empire 123–49; at end of history 104–22; and morality 37–57; and national interest 13–35; and terrorism 153 Squires, Judith 101 state-centrism 66 storytelling, politics of 178–88 structural functionalism 154 Sylvester, Christine 34, 101 syntax 10 Taliban 173 terrorism 148, 152, 153 Tickner, Ann 34, 101 Truman Show, The xx, 9–10, 112–20, 186 totalitarianism 114, 117 United Nations 14, 38, 40 United States exceptionalism 174 vegetarianism 4 Vietnam War 48, 149 visual culture 9 Wag the Dog xix, 9–10, 61, 67–79, 185, 186 Walker, R.B.J. 78, 148 Wallerstein, Immanuel 174 Walt, Stephen 77 Waltz, Kenneth 8, 13–35, 38, 41–2, 55, 62, 63, 87, 162, 179, 181, 186 Waltzer, Michael 57 war on terror 148, 151–76 Weber, Cynthia 11, 122, 149 Weigel, George 160 Weldes, Jutta 11 Wendt, Alexander 59–79, 127, 179, 186 Western Christianity 156, 158, 161, 165–6, 170, 171; and fundamentalism 173 White House 152 Williams, Raymond 3 Wilson, Woodrow 41–56 Woodridge, Adrian 122


World Trade Center 148 World Trade Organization 106, 120, 124 World War I 38, 56 World War II 23, 31, 38, 109, 110, 158, 159 Youngs, Gillian 121 Zalewski, Marysia 101 Zehfuss, Maja 149 Zizek, Slavo 175


Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Summary Of Not) Getting By In America By Barbara Ehrenreich

...The first reading we were given for this week was Nickel-And-Dimed on (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. This reading narrates the writer’s undercover experiment to find out how non-skilled, low waged workers make ends meet. The goal of the experiment was to see whether or not the author had enough money solely from the low paying job to provide for herself and also pay for the next month’s rent. Her first task was to find a place to live while she was staying in Key West Florida. She assumed that she would be paid roughly $7 an hour and could afford to spend $500 on rent. She eventually finds a trailer to live in for the two weeks that she would be staying in the city. After finding somewhere to live, she then found a job as...

Words: 553 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

"Getting to Yes" Report

...Negotiations Getting to Yes is about improving your negotiation skills. First, it goes through the disadvantages of the classic positional negotiating tactic that involves taking a stance and slowly reaching an agreement after each party makes multiple concessions often ending with less than anyone wants and a poor relationship between parties. After that, it discusses principled negotiation which, in short, is focused on separating the people from the problem, focusing on the interests of the parties and not their positions, inventing multiple options that look for mutual gains through brainstorming activities, and basing the end result on objective standards. This is the bulk of the book and there are many examples ranging from insurance adjusters to Middle Eastern treaties. After the in depth explanation of principled negotiation, the last part of the book describes many situations where the other party is using tricky tactics, won’t cooperate, or have a much better bargaining position than you. There are methods discussed to try to lead the negotiation in the direction you want, creating a BATNA, or diffusing the tricky method by calling it out. Overall, this book did not guarantee that this method will win every negotiation, but it will allow you a much greater chance to efficiently go through a negotiation and end up with more than you would have gotten not using this method. After reading this book, I have noticed that for the most part I understood and easily accepted...

Words: 1108 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Getting Things Done

...Praise for Getting Things Done "The Season's Best Reads for Work-Life Advice .. . my favorite on organizing your life: Getting Things Done . . . offers help building the new mental skills needed in an age of multitasking and overload." —Sue Shellenbarger, The Wall Street Journal "I recently attended David's seminar on getting organized, and after seeing him in action I have hope . .. David Allen's seminar was an eye-opener." —Stewart Alsop, Fortune "Allen drops down from high-level philosophizing to the fine details of time management. Take a minute to check this one out." —Mark Henricks, Entrepreneur "David Allen's productivity principles are rooted in big ideas ... but they're also eminently practical." —Keith H. Hammonds, Fast Company "David Allen brings new clarity to the power of purpose, the essential nature of relaxation, and deceptively simple guidelines for getting things done. He employs extensive experience, personal stories, and his own recipe for simplicity, speed, and fun." —Frances Hesselbein, chairman, board of governors, The Drucker Foundation "Anyone who reads this book can apply this knowledge and these skills in their lives for immediate results." —Stephen P. Magee, chaired professor of business and economics, University of Texas at Austin "A true skeptic of most management fixes, I have to say David's program is a winner!" —Joline Godfrey, CEO, Independent Means, Inc. and author of Our Wildest Dreams "Getting Things Done describes an incredibly practical...

Words: 84171 - Pages: 337

Premium Essay

Summary Of Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel And Dimed

...Nickel and Dimed is a novel written about the life of Barbara Ehrenreich, as an upper class writer, who went undercover to discover the pain and frustration of how so many Americans are not getting by in America. She leaves all her money and clothes and goes city to city trying to find a job and make a living with her laptop in tow. As she finds new jobs, she also finds new companions and learns that their struggle to escape the ominous thought of falling into poverty is large and never ending. Nickel and Dimed proved that It is impossible for minimum wage to provide an ordinary life for those working under a blue collar forcing them to grasp and fight for their survival. In the first part of Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich decided to go to...

Words: 625 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay


...have grown up so similarly, but one went on to be very successful, and the other a convict? The book tell the author's side of the story, the story of his childhood and his life. Wes Moore grows up under very poor conditions, and barely makes it by with his small family. Wes' mother is forced to drop out of school, and forfeit getting an education, to keep food on the table for her kids, and because Wes' father has been out of the picture for several years now, there is no other source of income for the poor family. Wes tries to stay strong despite all the bad things in his life, and pushes through days looking for the light at the end of the tunnel to solve all his problem. When Wes heads off to private school years later, he is at first passing classes and learning at a steady pace. However, when his life at home becomes too much to handle along with school, Wes takes a fall and fails out of private school. Wes doesn't want to go on living in poverty, so he decides that he is going to get an education one way, or another. He decides to join a military school and enlist in the countries' armed forces, in hopes that he will have one more chance at getting a wonderful education to turn his life around. At first, he didn't seem cut out for the military, but with time came acceptance, and Wes toughened up and contributed to the war in his own way. After his time in the...

Words: 739 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Low Wage Workers In Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel And Dimed

...Nickel and Dimed is written by Barbra Ehrenreich, she tries to show us how she did as a low wage worker. She although has good points about some flaws with the system, she tries to pin it all on the government. Ehrenreich does well showing the underbelly of society, but her personal motivation is quite mysterious and well hidden within the book. She points out that cost of housing is hard for the poor and the prices have skyrocketed beyond reason. Ehrenreich seams to forget that minimum wage is not meant to be lived off of ever, while she bashes the government about the system, she also shows the struggles of the low wage workers and what they face every day. Such as the medicine she took and how it affected her drug test or when she...

Words: 277 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay


...Ameya talole 1) What did you learn from this negotiation process? Today’s case study was based on the single negotiation with multiple issues which has included the family issues. Two brothers named George and Ron they were negotiating on the time sharing of their father summer house. And also they were negotiating on father’s personal effects such as stamp collection, ring, pocket watch, bonzo (dog), and club membership As per today’s negotiation I learn how to get into negation if it has multiple issues * Analyse the negotiation space * Don't try to beat the other side * Identify the issues and outcomes. * Avoid single-issue negotiations: identify and negotiate multiple issues simultaneously * Develop a rating system to assess the importance of each of The issues and outcomes * Understand the other party's interests, constraints, and perspective * Negotiate over interests, not positions * Calculate the value of your Best Alternative to No Agreement (BATNA) and alternatives. * Test outcomes using the rating system. What would you have done differently? In this case I was playing role of Ron the elder brother so as per time sharing of the house I decided to split the weeks of the summer season for both the families as both preferred the same time. And the other issue was maintenance of house so we decided to open join account contribute 500$ each month and to pay the maintenance and electricity bill from that joint account. Moreover...

Words: 313 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Negotiation Labor Simulation

...In class we had our first group negotiation, which proved to be a very challenging exercise. There were two teams, a labor union and factory management. The factory management wanted stricter rules and lower labor rates while the labor union wanted good benefits, higher wages, and less regulation. In addition to having team interests we also had individual interests. For example, I was an employee who worked at the factory 30 years so my interest was to have less regulation and to have higher benefits. Although each of us, had a desire to win, and had our own interests that could have made the negotiation distributive, the best approach was an integrative approach. This negotiation was distributive in nature since it had to do with getting the “most” or “least” points yet it did not have to be. Since my team knew that a distributive approach would not lead us anywhere we decided to use an integrative strategy. For example, the other side was not going to give us a substantial increase in benefits regardless of our options so we needed to find a way to accumulate points a different way. Therefore, we began pushing for higher wages and we were able to get a fifteen cent increase to give us 3 points, we required that we signed the labor clause (+2), slight increase in benefits (+1), weak regulation( -1), and one management regulation ( -1), etc. Overall, as a team we accomplished a gain of 7 points. There was not enough time and the other side was not budging. We tried not budging...

Words: 843 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Focus on Interest, Not Position Summary

...Problem in a negotiation does not lie in the conflicting positions but in the interest. Why this statement is important and true in negotiate? And what is true for an individual is equally true for groups and nations? However, how to convert positions to interests? If negotiator is takes the extreme position and mere ego may prevent coming to an agreement. When you dig more into positions less attention will be given to understanding the real underlying issues and will stand on positions that are far apart from what are really going to agree and waste so much of time and energy. The more you clarify and defend your position from attack; you become more committed to your position. A position is a one-dimensional point from a much wider range of options. If you focus on position, the potential answer is quite limited. Focusing on the substantive issue helps both parties discuss the underlying factors. Therefore, reconcile interests rather than compromising between positions leads you to options that could never be considered if you focused on your concrete positions. Dealing with actual concerns than position and expands the potential options for resolution. Perhaps behind opposed position lie shared and compatible interest. Maybe, options are not rigid objectives; they are potential solutions that would satisfy most, if not all, interests that people have if they want to solve a problem. Example in Malaysia there is three main races – Malay, Chinese and Indian. Each one...

Words: 605 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Best Practices in Negotiations, Article Review

...Article Review 7.1: Best Practices in Negotiations Article Review HR595 Negotiation Skills Course Instructor: Wendy Chung April 14, 2010 Week 7 Submitted by Bob Figone What is the problem or issue that necessitates such an article be written? This article comes directly out of both textbooks (Chapter 12 in Essentials of Negotiation, page 256 and Article 7.1 in Negotiation – Readings, Exercises and Cases, page 485) we have used for this course. It is a summary of what we have learned about the field of negotiation. It reminds us that negotiation is intrinsic in our lives and confronts us many times each day. This article is a reflection by the author’s using a broad view of best practices for negotiators to focus on in order to improve negotiation skills and techniques. What strategies or techniques are used to solve the problem or address the issue? The article lists Ten Best practices for Negotiators in a table and continues to explain the importance of each. The table from the text is as follows: |Ten Best Practices for Negotiators | |1. Be prepared | |2. Diagnose the fundamental structure of the negotiation | |3. Identify and work the BATNA ...

Words: 2145 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Chapter Summary Of The Forest Tucker The place he just came to was actually his hometown many many years back. In the forest the people who attempted to kill Tucker were chasing after him. Tucker took the leap of faith into a disc the old lady said was the death of a prophet. Tucker soon came to realize the prophet was Jesus. He didn't want to be noticed by the executioners, he broken to a dead bolt to a hillside near him. There he found his dad hiding behind a rock inside a cave, that's where the tomb of Jesus was to be held. As the executioners approached the cave they stumbled across Tucker and his dad. Tucker was sentenced to death on the cross. He was nailed on to the cross where he nearly died. He was sent to the same hospital that he was just at. When he was getting better he was sent into a disc that read your DNA and sent you back to your town. He was sent back but his mom didn’t recognize her and his dad was in his 80’s posing as the church pastor. There was a miracle in his little town. It was believed that Tucker's dad created the miracle. Everyone flocked into the town park to listen to his dad. Once everyone was in and waiting the his dad’s assistant showed that he was one of the people who attempted to sacrifice Tucker. The book ended with the Tucker’s sacrificer pointing to his friend and exclaiming that he has been chosen as a...

Words: 741 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Getting Help

...Getting Help It is important to get help when you need it. Without the proper help people would have trouble surviving. Many people feel that asking for help shows a sign of weakness so they will not ask for it. If more and more people would realize that it is okay to ask for help a person’s life could be made a lot easier. Asking for help just means that you care enough to get the proper help or the right answer instead of just ignoring a situation and trying to figure it out on your own. When asking for help don’t think of it as weakness but of believing enough in someone else to give you the advice or information that you are looking for. Help can come in many forms, from a ride to a doctor’s appointment, a trip to the grocery store for supplies, picking up someone’s medication to just being by someone’s side to hold their hand in a time of need. Help can also be given when someone is having trouble answering questions that they need to find the answer to. Never be afraid to ask a question, no question is to dumb or stupid except the one that you do not answer. Not every question will be answered in the way that you would like for it to but you will need to just take the answer in and decide what is the best route to go on when accepting the answer or...

Words: 251 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay


...tricks and deception to try to get the other side to concede more than you concede; making threats or issuing ultimatums; generally trying to force the other side to give in by overpowering them or outsmarting them, not by discussing the problem as an equal (as is done in integrative bargaining). The goal in distributive bargaining is not to assure both sides win, but rather that one side (your side) wins as much as it can, which generally means that the other side will lose, or at least get less than it had wanted. (Distributive bargaining tactics rarely assume the pie will divided in half.) Often these approaches to negotiation are framed as incompatible. Fisher, Ury, and Patton, authors of the negotiation best-seller Getting to Yes say that integrative bargaining is superior to distributive bargaining in most, if not all, circumstances--even in situations in which something is to be divided up. By cooperating and focusing on interests rather than positions, they argue that the pie can almost always be enlarged or some...

Words: 412 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Naxal Movement

...packaged as extreme political positions.” Near the end of 2012, the government made an important move towards negotiations with the Maoists, promising to put in place Crisis Management Groups (CMG), which are essentially teams to negotiate hostage situations in Left Wing Extremist (LWE) States. Clearly, the two high profile Maoist kidnaps of last year — Collector Alex Paul Menon at Chhattisgarh and the Italian tourists at Orissa — created much national distress. But as we embark on combating a new year of conflict, let us reflect for a bit. Capturing hostages is believed to be the only way for Maoists to get the government to lend them their ears. So by agreeing to talk only when kidnapped, are we not asking to be held at gun point? Getting the parties to the table is not the main problem, however. Recall the Committee for Concerned Citizens (CCC) — a group of former bureaucrats, journalists, intellectuals and fellow citizens who convened the 1994 Andhra peace talks. The CCC had earned enormous legitimacy as a result of the records of the victims of...

Words: 984 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Getting on Contract

...Getting on Contract: This process starts with the buyer in defining the requirement with clarity. The process for the buyer begins just prior to the receipt of the procurement request. The Contracting Officer should assist the program personnel with adequately describing the need for the RFP and reviewing the acquisition plan in its entirety for completeness and accuracy. The CO should also ensure that enough funds have been allocated for the requirement. Once the acquisition plan has been approved, the CO will be developing the solicitation. Once all sections of the RFP have been written and approved, the CO will post the resultant RFP to FedBizOpps for any and all contractors of interest view the RFP in full details. If FedBizOpps is not available, the CO may email the RFP out to Offerors identified in its market research. Once the RFP has been posted, the CO should allow companies enough time to propose responsively to the RFP- which could be from 15 to 45 days depending upon the size and complexity of the requirement. During this time, the CO should answer any questions that all Offerors may have regarding the RFP. This should be done in writing but can also be done in an open forum such as a pre-proposal conference. Once all questions have been answered, the CO should post these questions and answers on FedBizOpps for all Offerors to see and if needed, amend the RFP. The process from the seller’s point of view begins once a notice is synopsized on FedBizOpps...

Words: 972 - Pages: 4