A Review of the Basic Theories of International Relations. Part 2.
A prominent theorist of IR, A. Wendt classifies three prevailing classical theories of IR on the basis of two pairs of criteria :
Materialism vs Idealism
Individualism vs Holism
Materialism implies that strictly fixable and empirically reliable material facts, folding within their own inherent logic, lay in the basis of the processes unfolding in the field of international relations. The work of scientists and analysts is only to correctly and accurately describe, understand, systemize, and interpret them in their (subjective) theories. Politicians have to build a rational strategy on the basis of these material patterns themselves and take into account the most relevant theories by which they are comprehended.
Idealism derives from the premise that not only facts, but also values and gnoseological concepts (i.e. a subjective factor), predetermine the nature of the processes unfolding in international relations, and accordingly, changes to the consciousness of the actors or an expansion of their range may affect the material side of the unfolding events and processes. Norms are more important than facts and “ideas do matter” – this is the maxim of IR idealists.
Two different approaches contrast in another sociological register of oppositions: the individualistic and holistic (see L.Dumont).
Individualism implies that decisions are made by actors (whatever they are) on the basis of their egoistic preferences, based solely on implementations that further their own interests.
Holism (from the Greek ὃλος – “whole") comes from the fact that the whole is greater than the part, and accordingly, the society in its summation determines the decision and choice of its separate elements – whether it is the society within one particular state, a set of states, or a class.
On the basis of these two pairs of criteria, it is possible, according to A. Wendt, to compose the next scheme:
Materialism vs Idealism
Individualism vs Holism
We get 4 possible models:
1) Materialism + individualism. According to Wendt, this corresponds to the realist paradigm
2) Idealism + individualism = liberal paradigm
3) Materialism + Holism = neo-Marxist paradigm
4) Idealism + holism = ?
The question mark posed at the end of the fourth combination of terms has a great theoretical importance for the entire discipline of IR. The first three combinations describe the dominant classical paradigms, including Marxism. All these forms of knowledge correspond to the modern scientific world picture and are based on a common theoretical topic that is characteristic of Modernity. Everything here is based on the idea that there is a strict distinction between the subject and object, and they both have an autonomous existence . Depending on the type of philosophy, we can start from both the subject (liberalism in IR) and the object (realism and Marxist materialism in IR).
Therefore, three paradigms in IR - realism, liberalism, and neo-Marxism – are referred to as "positivist". They all operate with empirically observable "positive" realities, confirming themselves through their appeal to them or by criticizing the theories of their opponents.
Since the 1960s, the general humanities (philosophy, sociology, political science, etc.) began to show a growing interest in the Postmodern. They also became interested in its specific intellectual topic, which developed its main features at the dawn of the modern era (Descartes, Newton, Spinoza, etc.) and seeks to go beyond the scientific world picture. Postmodernism, ultimately radicalizing Kant’s intuitions, calls into question the pair itself – the subject/object – by regarding their being (ontology) as problematic and not capable of being proved. Structuralism and an appeal to language and text justify this doubt. Instead of the traditional pair of signifier/signified, an appeal to language and its structures is presented instead. This calls into question the place of denotatum (an objectively and empirically existing object of the external world that is being referred to by some type of linguistic sign or notation) and intercedes connotation (a semantic field associated with language, and not going beyond the language itself). This leads to the conclusion that the object and the subject do not exist separately from each other, and that any scientific, philosophical, or sociological concept is a complex hybrid (B. Latour).
Postmodernism, steadily expanding its position in the humanitarian field, at some point reached the discipline of IR. An entire range of new IR theories emerged at its base, which are collectively referred to as "post-positivist" and strictly distinguished from the "positivist" (realism, liberalism, neo-Marxism) ones. These theories correspond to the combination reserved by A. Wendt: idealism + holism. Instead of a question mark, we can now put the term “post-positivism”, as it is the common name for the range of new IR theories that are in one way or another colored by postmodernism and its specific methodology.
Idealism here emphasizes the decisive importance that is given to concepts (theories, ideas, views, texts) in comparison with “matter” (the empirical field, which is considered to be secondary and derivative). Holism in turn draws our attention to the fact that we are talking about the whole system prior to the allocation of individual atomic actors that can do without it (e.g. the "rhizome" of Deleuze or the "body without organs" of A. Artaud).
At the philosophical level, post-positivists appeal to the theories of "language games" associated with Ludwig Wittgenstein , the "scientific paradigms" of T. Kuhn, "the scientific field" of P. Bourdieu, the "regimes of truth" of M. Foucault, the "cognitive interest" of Jurgen Habermas, etc.
All post-positivist paradigms derive from the common point that theory is a self-sufficient discourse that constructs reality and not just a reflection of the objective situation on the subjective level (in society, history, politics, etc.).
For post-positivist paradigms, a defining characteristic is the consideration of all aspects of IR as a constructed and continuously constructing reality where the products of such a construction become the external world (international relations itself as an empirical fact) and those who direct it (constructors, actors, analysts, politicians). It is important to emphasize that in such an analysis, we are not merely dealing with reference to the fact that the objective processes in international relations are programmed, controlled, and provoked by someone.
That would be classical “idealism” in IR, which is characteristic of the liberal paradigm and remains quite “positivist”. In extreme forms, it would be a “conspiracy theory”, elements of which are found in the writings of a number of left-wing sociologists (e.g. some neo-Marxists or the sociologist C. Wright Mills ). Postmodernists go further and reveal that not only is the object in IR completely constructed from beginning to end, but that the subject itself is also the result of this constructing activity, although it is located on the other end of the cognitive process.
By creating the "reality" of international relations, the theorists and practitioners of IR at the same time create themselves - establishing separate base points and artificial figures in the bosom of a more compound complex process within a multidimensional and holistic social movement. The “holism” of post-positivist theories is derived from this, and from this point the main method common to all postmodernists follows: deconstruction. Deconstruction means the identification of the phases and structures of the process that creates the "objective world" and the "subject" that constitutes (establishes) this "objective world" by the very process of cognition. The goal of deconstruction is to identify the basic text within which the discourse of IR as a discipline unfolds. Identification of the field of IR with text and the application of structuralist technologies to it can serve as a useful metaphor for understanding the whole post-positivist approach in general.
Post-Positivist Theories in IR: Main Features and Nomenclature
We can highlight a number of common features inherent to all post-positivist theories without exception. We describe them at four levels:
epistemological (status and nature of knowledge and science in IR);
methodological (criterion of validity of scientific hypotheses);
ontological (status of empirical experience and autonomous existence of investigated realities);
normative (significance of governing ideas in influencing reality).
epistemologically questions the positivist attitude to knowledge and cognition, criticizes the claims for "objective" and empirically validated formulations of judgments referring to the natural and social reality;
methodologically discards any one of the scientific methods as the most "true" and asserts the equivalence of different methods (P.Feyerabend - "epistemological anarchism" ), identifies interpretive strategies as a priority;
ontologically discards rationalist concepts of nature and human activities, emphasizing the social constructivity of actors’ identity and the role of this constructed identity in the constitution of interests and actions;
normatively denies axiologically "neutral" theorizing until its very possibility, exposing claims of "science as a non-biased discipline", and strives to expose and overthrow the power structures and relations in any discourse.
It is easy to compare the main points of the positivist and post-positivist approaches through the following table .
а) belief that natural sciences and humanities can be researched on the basis of the same method. In other words, they are built on a rational analysis of positive empirically reliable facts (neither nature, the structure of rationality, nor the positivity of the facts are in question);
b) between facts and values there is an ontological difference: the facts are objective, while the values are subjective;
c) in the sphere of international relations, there are causal regularities which can be identified with the help of scientific methods;
g) the validity (reliable value) of proposed explanations can be justified on the basis of empirical (statistic) observations.
а) mind and nature are of a radically different kind, and moreover, are pre-determined by social attitudes and do not exist by themselves; constitutive gnoseology, constructivist understanding of the world;
b) facts and values derive from common sociological attitudes and are social constructs;
c) causal relations are not autonomous from how they are thought of, and consequently, are made by people (if it is not thought of as reasonable within IR, then it is not so);
g) empirical observations in the social sphere fully depend on observation procedures and are “valid” only in the context of a concrete “scientific field”, and are not such in another context (thereby meaning that their value is always relative).
Post-positivist theories in IR by various authors are classified differently. In some cases, approaches are grouped into the generalizing paradigms, while in others they are separated. Below we offer the most well-established model of classification for these theories.
The following are the branches of IR post-positivism:
critical theory of IR,
postmodernism in IR,
feminism in IR,
normativism in IR.
Constructivism has a special place. Its representatives (A. Wendt, J. Rosenau) insist that their paradigm has several similarities with positivism (ontology, recognizing the reality of the facts in the field of international relations) and with post-positivism (gnoseology, the recognition of the decisive role of concepts, ideas, and discourses in the construction of 'reality' for international relations).
Critical Theory of IR
Critical theory derives from neo-Marxism, emerging not from its materialist version ("the base determines the event in the superstructure"), but from an idealistic version in the spirit of Gramsci (the superstructure is relatively autonomous from the base and is able to actively influence it). The founder of this direction in IR is R. Cox.
Representatives of the critical theory of IR (R. Cox, early R. Ashley, E. Linklater, M. Hoffman, etc.) connect the Gramscist definition of "hegemony" by seeing it as "order based on domination, which is not perceived as such by those who experience it on themselves". In other words, hegemony is a structure of power relations necessarily presupposing the existence of the Hegelian dialectic pair of Master-Slave , but formally denying such a hierarchy. A collective slave (subordinate element) does not feel its situation as "obedience" and "slavery." Hegemony is dominance pretending to be "the absence of domination". Therefore, it cannot have a legal status by definition. It exists only as a fact, as a sociological ascertaining, while legally, judiciously, and psychologically it is denied and ignored.
Robert Cox analyses how the power structures (world or national capitalist elite) build discourse in IR in order to create the visibility of "objectivity" and "neutrality" to their "scientific" analysis, but in fact act this way for the sole purpose of securing their own class and power interests. In this manner, he follows classical Marxism. At the same time, R. Cox points out that all the dominant theories in IR are not purely theoretical developments aiming for "objective scientific truth", but "theories created ad hoc to solve specific problems” (problem-solving theories). Accordingly, these theories serve one purpose: to create and perpetuate the hegemony of the capitalist class.
The task of the critical theory of IR is to expose the gnoseological technologies that are behind this and are used in this process. This brings us to Cox’s main idea: international relations are understood by how they are described using IR theories, and the theories themselves are made by theorists. Claiming that they study empirical reality, these theorists are in fact actively constructing reality along the axis of class rule. Relations between states, the main actors of international relations, separate units, and blocs are such as they are designed by intellectuals who serve the global bourgeoisie. Therefore, deconstruction and critical exposure of the structures of this dominant discourse, and exposure of the hegemony from the implicit field into the explicit, undermines its hypnotic power and reveals the mechanism of suggestion, deception, and manipulation used by biased theorists.
In such a theory, ontology (even in the sense of classical positivist Marxism, where it is localized in the sphere of productive forces and production relations) is given little space, and by default it is assumed that "reality" is such as it is described by the dominant hegemonic discourse.
Alternatively, Cox proposes a project of "counter-hegemony" based on the exposure of the existing order in international relations and calls for a rebellion against it. In the first place, this rebellion must be cognitive. Capital is nothing else but discourse, and its antithesis, the proletariat, also has one weapon –intellect and the word. That is to say, the proletariat is also discourse, but the opposite of capital.
R. Cox proposes the creation of a counter-hegemonic historic bloc based on the actors of world politics that for one reason or another reject the existing hegemony, are aware of the fact of its existence, and ready to oppose it with alternative gnoseological, epistemological, normative, and finally, ontological projects.
Another representative of the critical theory in IR, Andrew Linklater , proposes to subject all theories of IR to deconstruction and adopt the alternative model of dialogic community to IR instead of a variety of versions of the dominant authoritative discourse. All the points that the axioms of realists and liberals are built upon are subjected to deconstruction by the representatives of critical theory. The processes of this deconstruction constitute the basic content of their polemical theoretical works.
Pertaining to classical Marxism, they reject fatalism, historical materialism, and confidence in the deterministic development of the world history.
Postmodernism in IR
Postmodernism in IR (sometimes called "post-structuralism in IR ") is represented by R. Ashley and oriented on the philosophy of Nietzsche and Heidegger. It is also influenced by R. Walker and J. Der Derian , who developed the ideas of the postmodern philosophers Michel Foucault, J. Derrida, and others. Postmodernists in IR are methodologically similar to the representatives of the critical theory and are sometimes referred to as one and the same.
R. Ashley insists that the basic idea of postmodern gnoseology, that the subject and object do not exist separately and autonomously but are inextricably totally linked to each other in the historical world, was transferred to the field of IR. Accordingly, a radically new actor appears in IR, analogous to the Dasein of Heidegger or the rhizome of Deleuze. This is not a pair of subject/object, but of what is between them and predetermines both of them in the historical-social context. By comprehending reality, man shapes both himself and it. There is no reality outside of this process.
Deconstruction of realism leads postmodernists to the following conclusion: speaking of what is "real" in Realpolitik, IR theorists constitute this reality, forcing all others to reckon with it by realizing the classic scenario of installing power relations. Master and Slave are initially included in the structure of "reality", which realists supposedly have to "objectively study and describe". The point being made is that relations of power came into the subject of IR study not on their own, but because they were projected there by a hierarchical system of discourse, where the will to power coincides with the will to knowledge (M. Foucault).
Another example is that the -individual operating under the realist concepts is constituted as an incompetent figure in IR, which directly leads to the usurpation of its competence by power entities and power-serving intellectuals that assign to themselves certain qualities that are refused to the rest. Thus, the very concept of λ-the individual is, according to postmodernists, a form of discrimination and an instrument of the conscious exacerbation of the ignorance, passivity, and submissiveness of masses.
Ashley systematically deconstructs the classical theories and concepts of IR. Thus, "international anarchy" is recognized by him not just as a statement of the factual state of affairs in the field of international relations, but as a hidden valorization of order and sovereignty that is an artificial and tricky legitimation of order and authority within the state . Such paired concepts as anarchy/order, unity/distinction, and identity/differential are of a hidden moral character and reflect the value setups established in supposedly neutral analytics .
Feminism in IR
Another kind of post-positivism in IR is feminism (Jane Elshtain , Cynthia Enloe , Ann Tickner , etc.). Methodologically, feminism has several varieties which determine the character of feminist approaches to the field of IR. Standpoint feminism believes that the female mentality and worldview are qualitatively different from the male ones, and the "feminine cosmos" should be recognized as an independent self-sufficient spiritual universe that has a good reason to insist on its own gender archetypes in relation to any area (including IR). Thus, Anna Tickner, a typical representative of "standpoint feminism", suggests the "feminist reformulation of the five principles of realism in IR of Hans Morgenthau ”, based on the fact that all the key terms here are formulated in a strictly male perspective: objectivity, law, force, interest, rejection of morality, nation, etc. They are identified with the axial constructions of the male language of domination, inequality, privatization, capture, and enslavement. The female counterparts would be: participation, care, friendliness, flexibility, mitigation, harmonization of subjectivity, forgiveness, and equality. Consequently, in the "feminine position", IR turns into a completely different conceptual reality.
The basis for the realist philosophical setup of Hobbes, that "man is a wolf to man", transferred to the relations between states, is subjected to a similar feminist deconstruction. It follows that Hobbes uses the Latin formula “homo homini lupus”, but homo (“man” in English) is "man". Feminists may think that "man is a wolf to a man", but to women it is clearly not the case. Consequently, the basic metaphor on which the primary axioms of political science are built, the theory of the state, sovereignty, and anarchy in international relations, is suitable only for half of humanity. One must ponder whether it is worth basing the entire theoretical discipline around the "male position", while ignoring the female point of view. If we substitute “woman” instead of “man” in the formula "man is wolf to a man", the whole formula would collapse and there will be a new idea on the grounds of which it is possible to build a completely different theory of IR.
A Tikner extensively criticizes neo-realists, for example, M. Waltz, for the name “neo-realism” itself, and accordingly, for titling his book “Man, State, and War” . Cynthia Enloe insists that upon "changing the theory, we change not the view of the world, but the world itself", and if only the theory of IR would be developed on behalf of woman, in a corresponding way, it will be transformed into reality itself. As an example, she points to the public organizations of "Soldiers' Mothers”, which can exert significant pressure on political decisions.
Postmodern feminists come to different conclusions. From their point of view, gender inequality is inherent to nature (the basic duality of the human species), and consequently, women's liberation is possible only through the rejection of sex as such, through the transition to asexual beings of a neutral gender (e.g. a cyborg – the "cyborg manifesto" is written for this purpose by feminist Donna Haraway ). In relation to the field of IR, such postmodern feminism leads to conclusions similar to those of the neo-Marxists and alter-globalists in the spirit of A. Negri and M. Hardt (multiplicities must escape from all determinations, including gender ). This leads to the concepts of "network society" and trans-humanist projects of post-human futurology.
Marxist feminism performs a class analysis of gender inequality and appeals in the spirit of classical Marxism to social equality in the course of building a communist society.
Liberal feminism insists solely on giving women full equal rights with men, implicitly recognizing the universality of man's position. In this case, women receive an equal place in society and thus the ability to actively participate in IR, but as a "man" - actually reproducing male archetypes, attitudes, and behavioral models.
Different types of feminism attack the area of IR from all sides, exposing the "mainstream" in this discipline as "male stream".
Normativism in IR
Critical theory, postmodernism, and feminism are usually classified as radical post-positivism, but there are also softened versions of the same direction.
The normative approach (M. Walzer , C. Brown , M. Frost ) and historical sociology (F. Halliday , S. Hobden and J. Hobson , B. Buzan and R. Little , S. Smith , etc., almost all of whom are descendants of the English School traditionally emphasizing the sociological aspects of IR theory) are typically classified as non-radical post-positivist aspects of IR.
The normative theory in IR only analyzes values, not facts. It emphasizes studying how different authors and schools define and describe what they think should be these or those systems, institutions, relations, or structures in the field of international relations. Normativists are interested not in the reality of international relations as it is, but in what should be in accordance with the theories that describe it. Normativists investigate theory as a projection of reality, giving empirical facts and processes secondary significance or not taking them into consideration at all.
Normativists, particularly M. Walzer , apply the principle of "thick description” to IR, introduced by anthropologist C. Geertz . The description of society or a political system (in our case, the system of IR) can either be "diluted" ("superficial”, thin) or “thick”.
In the first case, only the most outstanding sides of phenomenon, most of all those that are eye-catching at first glance, are included in this consideration. They are seen as predetermining everything else owing to the connections they supposedly build between other phenomenon, thus constructing the classical theories of IR positivism (and most of the theories in other fields of knowledge). The “thick” description requires a more thorough and multidimensional analysis of various aspects of phenomena, including the consideration of those sides which may at first glance seem to be minor and irrelevant. This refers to the nuances of culture, values, life, psychological attitudes and habits, historical traditions, and other phenomena which have a wide field of meaning inherent to each particular society. Classical theories disregard these factors, content with the “dilute” description (with a high degree of reduction), and assuming that they separate most important instances (the state of the realists, state and democracy for the liberals, class for the Marxists, etc.), they act as a synthesis resulting vector by completely and exhaustively discounting all other factors. As a rough approximation, such a “diluted” description is usually enough, but on a strict scientific level, this is not acceptable. Normativsts insist that in-depth research and “thick” descriptions often reveal the factors, ratios, and relationships that radically change the entire observed picture, and in particular, allow one to predict and systematically describe its inherent faults, crises, and syncopations that are not observable by positivist methods. The normativist formula for IR could be that “sense has importance”.
Representatives of "historical sociology", developed in the womb of the latest generation of the English School’s academics, base their concepts on the critique of two distinguished features characteristic of most classical IR theories: chrono-fetishism and tempo-centrism (S. Hobden ). “Chronofetishism” is understood by IR theorists as the (false) belief that the current order of international relations originated on its own and is the only natural, possible, spontaneous, stable, “self-created”, and “eternal” system. Such a setting obscures the study of the processes and mechanisms of ruling, hides the logic of the formation of social identity, and ignores the balance of inclusion/exclusion. The system is not “once and for all”, but is continuously producing the present as it is through a series of changes.
“Tempo-centrism” is the illusion of the isomorphism (homogeneity) of all existing and ever-existed systems of international relations on the basis of the models that are prevalent today, which makes it difficult to understand the essence of international relations in their historical evolution.
By placing IR on the scale of history, supporters of “historical sociology” come to identify with the idea of “international systems” (B. Buzan and R. Little ), each of which represents a very special model of interaction between the various actors both within and outside the basic political units in that context. All of this can be conditionally called “international relations”. Applying the historical-sociological approach to the international systems, B. Buzan is given a very important question: is the construction of IR theories possible in a different ideological-historical and sociological context than the West? This is a very important feature of historical sociology in IR, which makes it an important tool for developing the Theory of the Multipolar World (as will be discussed in the next chapter).
Increased attention to the past and to the character of the historical transformations of “international systems” allows one not only to better understand the present, but to better design the future (because here the emphasis is on awareness of possible changes). From the fixed “positive” realities of the classical theories of IR, “historical sociology” leads one to constantly changing semantically variable units and configurations that require very special and careful consideration each time. Compared with such sophisticated concepts, the classical theories of IR look like rough approximations based on unwarranted and simplistic reductionism.
Constructivism in IR
Between the positivist and post-positivist paradigms is constructivism (A. Wendt, N. Onuf , M. Finnemore, J. Ruggie , P. Katzenstein, S. Guddzini, etc.).
Representatives of this direction focus primarily on the cognitive sphere, i.e. thinking. Thus, Martha Finnemore states that world politics is primarily determined not by the objective structure of the relations of material forces, but by the cognitive structure consisting of ideas, beliefs, values, norms, and institutions that are mutually accepted as actors. IR, according to her, is the sum not of the balance of powers, but of significance and social values . Another constructivist, Peter Katzsenstein, draws attention to the importance of cultural factors in IR, which in certain situations become decisive. He shows that the ideal norm-forming structure shared by various actors not only affects their behavior, but also contributes to the constitution of the actors themselves and the construction of their identity and interests. These interests are not objects awaiting discovery, but constructions of social interactions. According to him , the cultural environment does not simply affect the motivation of state behavior, but it also affects the fundamental character of these states and their identity.
The same theme is developed by one of the founders of the constructivist approach in IR, Nicholas Onuf, who insists that the structures and agents (actors) of international relations affect each other and constantly redefine and reconstitute one other. He writes in his book, “The world that we create ourselves” (whose title could become a summarized program of constructivism), that social relations are built by people through their interactions with one another and nature. He also states that they influence personal development.
Another prominent representative of constructivism and major theorist of this direction, Alexander Wendt, distinguishes three possible models for translating the cultural paradigm:
- in the realist paradigm, the state shares culture under constraint;
- in the liberal, it is shared on their own interests;
- and constructivism proposes to focus on the consensus of legitimation: the state shares culture, then culture becomes a structural and structuring factor, constituting and reconstituting states through their identity and interests.
Wendt describes his approach in the framework of a system of categories that he has proposed: materialism/idealism and individualism/holism , as mentioned earlier. The combination of idealism and holism, which found no correspondence in classical positivist theories, is applied in post-positivism (and particularly in the borderline case of constructivism) as follows:
Idealism consists in the fact that the international system of IR is conceived as an ensemble composed of ideas shared by states, not of the balance of forces (powers) or the means of production. Social structures are predefined by ideas shared by actors, and not by material relations, that is, they are the point of culture as a set of socially shared knowledge.
Holism here means that the state's interests are not endogenous to actors (it does not matter if they are states, corporations, industries, or individuals) or strictly fixed, but constituted and affected by the entire international system. That is, the field of international relations is an independent living and constituent environment. The interests and identities of social actors are constructed by the ideas that they share, i.e. culture, and are never imposed on anyone once and for all without some type of interaction first taking place.
Instead of one identity of the actors of IR – the state, regime, class – Wendt proposes distinguishing four levels:
a) Corporate identity: the state as an organizational actor associated with society, which it manages through the structure of political power (realism);
b) typal identity: political regime and economic system, and partially social characteristics (note the relativity of these concepts in international relations in different societies: for one there are some assessment criteria, while for others, there are different criteria) - liberals and transnationalists focus their attention on this type of identity;
c) the role identity: the properties of states in their relations with other states (distinction of the hegemon/satellite pair, the state, promoting the status-quo, a state dissatisfied with its position in the current international environment - the concept of an "unsatisfied power", etc.); this is in the focus of neo-realists and representatives of the English school in IR;
d) collective identity: identification of two or more states as belonging to a single "Ego", as a part of whole (neo-liberals, neo-realists and representatives of the English School of IR develop along these lines).
Consistently applied to the analysis of reality, this method shows that all national ideas (security, interest, survival, etc.) are embedded in the norms and values that constitute these identities. Thus, national interests consist of internationally shared ideas and beliefs; namely they structure international political life and give it sense.
Wendt interprets the basic IR definition of “anarchy” in three variants:
Hobbes (the other as an enemy);
Locke (the other as a competitor);
Kant (the other as a friend).
The first case gives us a conceptual outline of the realist analysis; the second one, the liberal; and the third model allows us to understand the post-state model of the organization of humanity as a global civil society (neo-liberalism, transnationalism, and a partial application of the neo-Marxist world-system that is adjusted for class antagonism).
The Status of Post-Positivist Theories in IR
Post-positivist paradigms, in all their diversity in recent decades, have become an essential component of an entire scientific discipline of IR, and their importance is constantly growing.
In relation to these approaches, it should be noted that they are too methodologically complicated to play a significant role in cases where a particular foreign policy concept is required to be conveyed to the masses. Post-positivists base their ideas on a philosophical and sociological method and study the theories of IR as a product of “secondary processing”. This brings about their critical potential: they represent a “second-level science” where the very basics of scientific rationality are reflected on the rational (critical). This creates an additional “stage”, a special dimension of scientific reflection. Appeals to such theories in a broad common parlance are apparently irrelevant since they require a very high level of competence.
On the contrary, in the academic community of IR, the post-positivist approach has received increasing attention. Some partial individual aspects of these academic paradigms are successfully incorporated into various projects and programs related to it.
We can summarize the state of affairs in this area in the following way: today there is an opportunity to engage in foreign policy and practice in the field of international relations basing on the classic positivist theories of IR. This may be enough to some, but at the level of academic science and to participate in major scientific conferences, debates, and symposia, this is not enough, and without a familiarity with post-positivist trends in IR, no expert on international affairs will develop the necessary minimal competency needed for the field.
The Existing Range of Theories and Paradigms of IR Does Not Contain a Complete Theory of the Multipolar World
A brief overview of the entire spectrum of existing theories of IR was necessary in order to illustrate the following fact: today there is no complete, ready Theory of the Multipolar World in the existing paradigms, and moreover, in the present context, a place for such a theory is not reserved.
For a long time, the area of IR was considered to be an "American science", as it was developed mostly in the United States. In recent decades, however, its study widely spread to academic institutions around the world, but so far this discipline bears the explicit imprint of being Western-centric. It was developed in Western countries in the era of modernity and preserves an historical and geographical connection with the context in which it originally appeared and which held its formation. This is particularly reflected in the main axis of debates around which IR evolved as a discipline (realists vs liberals), which also reflected the specifics of the main concerns and problems of American foreign policy itself (in some ways repeating the classical argument of the U.S. isolationists and expansionists).
The last stage, especially among post-positivist approaches, clearly revealed a tendency of the relativization of US-centrism (Western-centrism in general). This imbued it with an impulse to democratize its theories and methods and expand its criteria to a more even distribution of actors in IR and a closer (“thick”) analysis of their semantic structures and identities. This is a step towards the relativization of Western epistemological hegemony, although so far, even critics of Western hegemony were based on the laws of hegemony itself. Thus, typical Western concepts of democracy and democratization, freedom, and equality are transferred to non-Western societies, sometimes even those opposed to the West, as if these concepts were "something universal ". If the opposition to the West is understood as combating the universalism of Western values, then such a confrontation is bound to remain sterile.
Therefore, in order to go beyond the boundaries of a Western-centric civilization, we need to return to all theoretical concepts and methodological strategies, including those which are critical of the West. A legitimately alternative model of IR and, accordingly, the structure of world order can emerge only in opposition to the entire spectrum of Western theories in IR (primarily positivist, but also partly post-positivist).
The absence of the Theory of the Multipolar World (TMW) among those theories of IR that we have investigated is not an unfortunate accident or carelessness, but is a natural fact: in the context of coded western cognitive (epistemological) hegemony, it cannot be any other way. Nonetheless, it can still be theoretically developed and the existence of the wide panorama of existing IR theories will only help in correctly formulating it.
If we begin to seriously construct such a theory, then we must initially approach it with distance in relation to the cognitive IR hegemony of the West. This is to say that by calling into question the existing spectrum of IR theories on their axiomatic basis, then on the second level, we may borrow from this sphere some separate components, each time specifying the condition and context in which this is to be implemented. Strictly speaking, none of the existing theories of IR are relevant for the construction of the Theory of the Multipolar World, but many of them contain elements that, under certain conditions, could be integrated into the Theory of the Multipolar World (TMW).