Bounding Power

Bounding Power: Republican Security Theory from the Polis to the Global Village

Daniel H. Deudney
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    Bounding Power
    Book Description:

    Realism, the dominant theory of international relations, particularly regarding security, seems compelling in part because of its claim to embody so much of Western political thought from the ancient Greeks to the present. Its main challenger, liberalism, looks to Kant and nineteenth-century economists. Despite their many insights, neither realism nor liberalism gives us adequate tools to grapple with security globalization, the liberal ascent, and the American role in their development. In reality, both realism and liberalism and their main insights were largely invented by republicans writing about republics.

    The main ideas of realism and liberalism are but fragments of republican security theory, whose primary claim is that security entails the simultaneous avoidance of the extremes of anarchy and hierarchy, and that the size of the space within which this is necessary has expanded due to technological change.

    In Daniel Deudney's reading, there is one main security tradition and its fragmentary descendants. This theory began in classical antiquity, and its pivotal early modern and Enlightenment culmination was the founding of the United States. Moving into the industrial and nuclear eras, this line of thinking becomes the basis for the claim that mutually restraining world government is now necessary for security and that political liberty cannot survive without new types of global unions.

    Unique in scope, depth, and timeliness,Bounding Poweroffers an international political theory for our fractious and perilous global village.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3727-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-24)

    Globalization is the first, most important fact about the human condition at the threshold of the third millennium. Globalization, the rising levels of interdependence on progressively larger spatial scales, has been the dominant trend in human history during the last five centuries, and it has operated in military, ecological, economic, and cultural dimensions. Over this period, all human political communities, initially isolated or loosely connected, have become more densely and tightly interconnected and subject to various mutual vulnerabilities in a manner previously experienced only on much smaller spatial scales. The creation of this villagelike proximity and density on a global...

  2. Part I: Traditions and Theory
    • (pp. 27-60)

      From its inception, republican security theory has been concerned with what might be termed thesecurity-political question: what kinds of political arrangements are necessary for security? Republican security theory comprises a cluster of interrelated problematiques and substantive arguments, which this chapter reconstructs. In addressing the question of what kinds of political arrangements are necessary for security, republican security theory has started from the simple assumption that achieving security-from-violence (security from the application of violent power to human bodies) is the most basic political problem. Arising from the intersection of human corporeal vulnerability and the fundamental value of life as a...

    • (pp. 61-88)

      Due to their scope and antiquity, the arguments of republican security theory find partial articulation in a vast number of theorists stretching from the Greek Enlightenment to the present. No one theorist makes all these arguments, and some part of these arguments appears, if sometimes faintly, in virtually every theorist who attempts to shed light on the politics of security. Given this, it is useful to sketch some of the ways in which the arguments of republican security theory relate to and differ from other bodies of ‘republican’ thought and Realism and Liberalism. These general relationships are usefully visualized as...

  3. PART II: From the Polis to Federal Union
    • (pp. 91-113)

      The origins and early development of Western political theory and republicanism in particular are intimately connected with the city-states that flourished around the Mediterranean prior to the Roman Imperial ascendency. Actions and words from classical Greece and republican Rome stand enshrined as foundational in the modern conception of the West as a distinct civilization, and ancient writers and events have exercised a startlingly powerful presence in all aspects of Western thought, particularly about politics. The evolution of Western political thought has proceeded as a series of revivals, modifications, commentaries, revisions, and critiques of ancient political theory. For two millennia Western...

    • (pp. 114-135)

      The period between the late-medieval era and the late-eighteenth century, between the dawn of the Renaissance and the waning of the Enlightenment, witnessed major revivals and innovations in European republican theory and practice. The first waves of revivalist republican theory, most prominently Machiavelli, looked admiringly at the militarism and expansionism of the Roman Republic. But subsequent innovations, first in Venice and then in Holland and Britain, yielded a novel and distinctively modern republicanism that condemned rather than glorified conquest, embraced nascent capitalism, and employed constitutional representation to overcome earlier size barriers.

      The legacies of this era are ubiquitous. Key events...

    • (pp. 136-160)

      For better or worse, Europe has decisively shaped the last half millennium of world history. Beginning around 1500 and culminating in the early-twentieth century, European imperialism and colonialism influenced or dominated virtually every corner of the planet. Interacting with and fueling this outward expansion, revolutionary developments in science, technology, economy, society, and culture also transformed Europe itself from a relative backwater to the most dynamic civilization in modern times and saw the emergence in Europe of fundamentally novel political forms. Europe’s globe-spanning empires almost completely have vanished in the second half of the twentieth century, but the modern world is...

    • (pp. 161-190)

      The climax of early modern republican security theory was the founding of the United States of America.² The architects of this political order boldly referred to it as anovus ordo saeclorum, a “new order of the ages,” distinctive both from the earlier republican city-states and the ‘republic’ of Europe. The United States of America between the establishment of the Union (1781–89) and the War of Southern Secession (1861–65), which I will refer to as the ‘Philadelphian system’ in contrast to the Westphalian system in Europe, has been widely recognized as being ‘exceptionalistic’ in several ways.³ Due to...

  4. Part III: Toward the Global Village
    • (pp. 193-214)

      In the standard narrative of Western history, the decades surrounding 1800 are widely seen as a major turning point, dividing the five centuries of the modern era into early and late modernity. In the narrative of material civilization this period marks the beginning of the industrial revolution.² In the realm of intellectual history, the break is marked by the growing centrality of historical change. In the annals of liberal history, this period witnesses the substantial growth of liberal democracy, and for international politics the beginning of a marked intensification of globalization.

      The intellectual legacies of the long nineteenth century loom...

    • (pp. 215-243)

      In the broad sweep of five centuries of multidimensional globalization, the first fully global security system emerged as the industrial revolution spread and accelerated in the later-nineteenth century. High levels of material interdependence previously present only in smaller spaces began to be experienced at continental and increasingly global scales, and this primal development transformed the loosely coupled global political and economic systems of the early modern era into much more tightly coupled and increasingly interactive ones (recall figure 1.4). This second phase of globalization was extremely tumultuous, as European imperialism crested and then receded, as the European-centered international system descended...

    • (pp. 244-264)

      The last half of the twentieth century has been marked by accelerating intensification in all four dimensions of the five-century process of globalization. These multiple accelerations of historical change confront observers living in their midst with a bewildering kaleidoscope of seemingly revolutionary developments, the implications of which are difficult to discern. In this tumult, Marshall McLuhan’s concept of the ‘global village’ and the associated ‘whole earth’ image of the blue-green earth set against the black void of space have something approximating an archetypal status.² Among their many contested implications, they vividly capture the fact that the material context of humanity...

  5. (pp. 265-278)

    Despite the proliferation of advanced social science approaches in international theory, the grouping of arguments into competing traditions still delineates much of the map of international theorizing. In part, this stubborn traditional persistence reflects the fact that the major ideas of international theory were first formulated by political theorists. These ideas, whether relabeled or rediscovered, continue to constitute almost all of the quite limited set of major insights about security politics produced by Western political science. This traditional persistence also reflects the fact that arguments gain authority and plausibility from association with distinguished and antique genealogical lineages. Centered on enduring...