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The Elusive Transformation

The Elusive Transformation: Science, Technology, and the Evolution of International Politics

Eugene B. Skolnikoff
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    The Elusive Transformation
    Book Description:

    Eugene Skolnikoff treats the roles of science and technology across the entire range of relations among nations, including security and economic issues, environmental questions, international economic competitiveness, the spread of weapons technology, the demise of communism, the new content of dependency relations, and the demanding new problems of national and international governance. He shows how the structure and operation of the scientific and technological enterprises have interacted with international affairs to lead to the dramatic evolution of world politics experienced in this century, particularly after World War II.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2092-4
    Subjects: History of Science & Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    • One The Setting
      (pp. 3-15)

      THE STARTLING CHANGES in world affairs that began in the late 1980s signaled the end of many of the central elements of postwar international relationships. Momentous and unexpected events in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union occurred at a breathtaking pace, with a spontaneity that tended to obscure the underlying currents that had unleashed them. Many forces were at work in those societies over decades, culminating in dramatic upheaval in essentially all countries of the former eastern bloc.

      Not the least of those forces were the effects of technological change on the nations of the East and on their relations...

    • Two The Scientific and Technological Enterprises and the Direction of Technological Change
      (pp. 16-44)

      The scientific age can be said to have begun in the seventeenth century with Francis Bacon’s recognition of the significance of a disciplined method for development, testing, and verification of theory. His concept became the essential foundation for all that followed by recognizing the cumulative nature of science that transcended the capability of individuals or of a generation.¹ The British Royal Society propagated the Baconian doctrine, providing the base for the development of a scientific community that steadily expanded as succeeding generations built on what went before. It was that adoption of the scientific method that distinguished science in the...


    • Three National Security
      (pp. 49-92)

      NATIONAL SECURITY is a concept rather less well defined than the unwary would expect. It clearly encompasses as a minimum the responsibility of a government to protect its citizens and territory and to ensure the nation’s survival, a responsibility typically assumed to lie primarily with a nation’s military forces. In fact, that assumption of narrow dependence on the military is now quite a constrained view, as it becomes increasingly evident that the true security of a state depends on much more than military capability alone. Economic strength, competitive industry, educational quality, a wholesome environment, welfare of the citizenry, adequate public...

    • Four Economies and Polities
      (pp. 93-174)

      ISSUES OUTSIDE the security sector that are affected by science and technology present a more difficult task for this study.¹ Our daily lives are more directly affected by these technology-related changes than by change in security matters; the negative consequences of change are becoming more visible and controversial; and rhetoric—whether critical or favorable—about the effects of technology increasingly bombards the public, the academy, and governments. The gradual shift of attention in world affairs from military competition to economic competition gives greater political saliency to nonsecurity issues; at the same time, the effects stemming from technological change in those...

    • Five Global Dangers
      (pp. 175-201)

      NATIONS HAVE become familiar with, perhaps even reconciled to, living with the apocalyptic threat of nuclear weapons, the most destructive devices ever made possible by scientific and technological advance. Since 1945, international politics has had to cope with the existence of those weapons and with the knowledge that their use in any quantity would wreak havoc on civilization, and could possibly destroy human life on the planet. The international political system has accommodated to the new situation, with some important changes but without the massive transformations in the behavior of states or in the structure of the system that many...

    • Six Practical Problems of Governance: Institutions and Processes
      (pp. 202-220)

      A FREQUENT theme in the preceding chapters has been the effects of technological change on the nature and problems of governance within countries and internationally. There have been many references to the new demands placed on national policy processes, the altered setting in which foreign policy must be made, and the additional international functions that must be carried out through collective action. These consequences for governance are in themselves factors influencing the evolution of the international political system; it is important to pull the various strands together and examine them as a group—what they are and what their influence...


    • Seven Conclusions and Observations
      (pp. 223-252)

      IN A WORLD that is less than fifty years from the discovery of the structure of DNA and the invention of the transistor, only a few years longer from the key experiment that demonstrated atomic fission, and only a little more than a century from the invention of the telephone—out of some nine thousand years of recorded human history and some three hundred thousand years since the appearance ofhomo sapiens—it may well be a quixotic exercise to attempt to describe with confidence the effects of technological change on any contemporary aspect of human affairs. The brief time...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 253-304)
  8. Index
    (pp. 305-322)