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Understanding the Essence of International System

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Understanding the Essence of International System
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  Faculty of Social and Political Sciences International Relations Undergraduate Program G10B.426 —  World Politics 1 February 2013 Universitas Padjadjaran Understanding the Essence of International System Ravio Patra —  170210110019 Amongst other scholars, Martin Wight, a prominent British thinker of International Relations, might have provided a better understanding of the International System concept. On his posthumous work, “ Systems of States ”  (Bull 1977, p. 21), Wight elaborated that the srcin of the term can be traced back to the end of the seventeenth century, when a German jurist, Pufendorf, coined the term “state - system”; explained as a system where several states that are so connected as to constitute one body but whose members retain sovereignty. This definition prompts an elaborated discussion on the true sense of international system itself; with several contemporary studies have questioned whether the term international system is still relevant to today’s dynamics of current affairs. International, as a term often seen as coined by Jeremy Bentham, has been considered as a misnomer by several thinkers (Archer 2001, p. 1) due to the excessive usage of the term global since the term represents more than just interstate relations. International system, from the realist perspective, is set up by the state (sovereign state; nation-state) that interact with each other constantly so that interaction affects their behavior and decision-making. While classical theorists prefer to link the international system concept to that of Thomas Hobbes; where state is believed to be anarchy in its nature; the same along with Niccollo Machiavelli. From these two approaches, it is explicitly defined that international system concerns only int  erstate relations, while today’s dynamics bring more than just the state actors to the international system stage. International organizations, international regimes, and individual actors are amongst a few to name. ***   G10B.426 — World Politics 1 February 2013 1 Universitas Padjajaran To apprehend a further understanding of the international system, any scholars have to be able to criticize all the definitions that have been recognized scientifically. Prior to this critical process, there has to be an identification of what the fundamental concept is. Knowing this, it is a highly efficient way to understand the core of international system through a comparison study of different thinkers’ definitions of the subject.   According to K. J. Holsti, in his work “International Politics: A Framework for Analysis” (1995, p. 23), a n international system is seen as any collection of independent political entities — may it be tribes, city-states, nations, or empire — that interact significantly one to another with regulated processes as its guideline. Further, Holsti sustained his definition that each historical system, in his understanding, has to be analyzed from five different aspects:    The boundaries of the system analyzed; which is the line between the interaction and the environment where it occurs. Through this method, it is expected that the boundaries that define the system will be identifiable; from multidimensional aspects, such as geographical features, cultural differentiations, or focused issues;    The main characteristics of the political units consisting inside the system;    The structure where it is formed is definable; in the sense that it has a characteristic of power and influence configuration with persisting forms of dominant and subordinate relationships;    The interaction that the actors inside the system create are built upon the component units, some of them are aspects like diplomatic contacts, trade, types of rivalries, and organized violence or warfare;    The interactions have to be done with accordance to both the explicit or implicit rules and customs or norms.   G10B.426 — World Politics 1 February 2013 2 Universitas Padjajaran In contrast to the definition that Holsti offers, George Modelski (Knorr & Verba, 1961) defines a definition of the international system rather as a social system that contains structural and functional requirements instead of merely political entities. International system, according to Modelski, is defined as a set of objects where, along with all their attributes, create an interrelationship where every single actors interact with each other. To put more to his definition, Modelski elaborates that the relationship contains several patterns of action as well as interactions among the collectivities and individuals acting on their behalf. *** Understanding the core of international system requires a broadminded platform of thinking. The same rule goes to understand the critical process of thinking of understanding Holsti and Modelski’s definitions of international system. In Holsti’s definition, state is considered as the center of interactions in the international level of analysis; while Modelski considers it more than just merely an arena for the nation-states to interact. Modelski offers a definition that goes further than most thinkers in his generation; which is an international system with several actors and forms; relative to the environment. While both definitions have been such significant parts of the study of international relations, today’s international system may be closer to what Modelski tried to define; due to the growing roles and functions of nonstate actors; moreover with the significant amount of multinational corporations and international organizations that influence quite a lot of the international system itself. This is why, the process of understanding the core of international system has to be done through a critical phase with critical thinkin process. Therefore, clarity can be achieved through the process. ■     G10B.426 — World Politics 1 February 2013 3 Universitas Padjajaran REFERENCES Archer, Clive (2001) International Organizations (3 rd  Edition). London and New York: Routledge. Holsti, K. J. (1995) International Politics: A Framework for Analysis . New York: Routledge. Modelski, George (1961) Agraria and Industria: Two Models of the International System. In: Knorr, Klaus & Verba, Sidney (eds.). The International System: Theoretical Essays . London: Palgrave.  
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