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The end of a new beginning : the crisis of the "third debate" and the politics of post-modern international… Jarvis, Darryl Stuart Leslie 1995

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THE END OF A NEW BEGINNING:THE CRISIS OF THE “THIRD DEBATE” AND THE POLITICSOF POST-MODERN INTERNATIONAL THEORYByDarryl Stuart Leslie JarvisB.A., (Honours), The Flinders University of South Australia, 1988M.A., The Flinders University of South Australia, 1991A THESIS SUBMITTED iN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Political Science)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASeptember, 1995.© Darryl S.L. Jarvis7 I9’5In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at theUniversity of British Columbia, I agree that the library shall make it freely available forreference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis forscholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or herrepresentatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gainshall not be allowed without my written permission.Department of Political Science,The University of British Columbia,Vancouver, Canada.Date:(Signature)VPage iiAbstractThe discipline of International Relations is today pervaded by an almost debilitatingsense of “crisis,” perhaps even “entropy,” where certainty in our theoretical constructs, researchprograms, intellectual motifs and disciplinary sense of purpose, has all but disappeared.Practitioners now readily rehearse the litany of ills that beset the discipline, lamenting an erafree of dire proclamations that announce “crisis,” disjuncture, division, and retrogression. Theimminent end of International Relations, or at least pronouncements of its intellectual disarray,now serve both as an intellectual starting point for the study of international relations as wellas an epitaph forewarning of the discipline’s intellectual closure or impending collapse.Theoretical turmoil has become endemic, indeed part of the normal disciplinary discourse bywhich International Relations has come to be understood and identified.This thesis addresses some of the causes of this “crisis” and the sense of intellectualmalaise prevalent amongst students, theorists and practitioners alike. More generally, the thesisis a contribution to reclaiming International Relations from those who would wish its end andfrom those who actively seek its deconstruction. To that end, I question the utility of the latest,and seemingly perennial, bout of metaphysical reappraisal labelled the “Third Debate.” Morespecifically, I explore the newest theoretical fad to hit International Relations, post-modernism,analyzing critically what this might offer international theory, or, more accurately, what itthreatens to do to the discipline and theoretical endeavour.Until now, most commentators have merely announced the arrival of the “Third Debate”and of post-modem theory, little understanding the epistemic leitmotifs of the debate or theepistemological and ontological issues at play amid the abstract interlocutions of positivists andPage iiipost-positivists. Post-modernist discourse, in particular, has tended to favour a somewhat obtuseand recondite form of self-expression, ostracising those not versed in its technical jargon andengaging in a level of debate not traditionally familiar to theorists of international relations. Inthis respect, this thesis might be understood as a baedeker to the “Third Debate” and post-modern theory more generally; an attempt to traverse the otherwise un-traversable subterfugeof post-modernist discourse in order to make sense of it and assess its worth and utility to thestudy of international relations.It is in this spirit that I explore the writings of various post-modernists throughout thesocial sciences and humanities, and attempt to develop a series of heuristic typologies of post-modern theory in order to provide an overview of its various nuances and epistemic motifs.These categories are then applied, via a critical exegetic analysis, to the work of RichardAshley, one of the discipline’s leading champions and importers of a post-modernistperspective.Page ivTABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract iiTable of Contents ivAcknowledgements viDedication viiiINTRODUCTION 1CHAPTER ONEContemplating the Crisis in the Crisis of Contemplation:The Predicament of International Relations 8CHAPTER TWOToward Theory In International Relations:The Consequences of the “Third Debate” and the NewestRadical Perspectivism 37CHAPTER THREESentinels of Dissidence: A Typology ofPost-modern Theory 71Page vCHAPTER FOURRichard K. Ashley and the Subversion of InternationalPolitical Theory: The “Heroic” Phase 128CHAPTER FIVEContinental Drift: Ashley and Subversive Post-modernism 186CHAPTER SIXIn Defense of Theory: The Legacy of Post-modernistApproaches in International Relations 223CONCLUSIONThe End of a New Beginning: Reaffirming Reason,Rearticulating Relevance, and Resisting Restructuring,Reconstruction, and Reinscription 261BIBLIOGRAPHY 268Page viACKNOWLEDGEMENTSAs I sit down to write this very last page of script to be included in the introductorypages of my dissertation, it occurs to me how misplaced, indeed deceptive, is my personalsense of accomplishment. Mine was a sacrifice involving little more than self-absorption andperennial preoccupation! Of those around me, however, theirs was a much greater sacrifice thatwords alone cannot describe. What does one say to parents who paid for this, to the supportof friends that never tired, and to the colleagues whose assistance never faulted? It is fitting,therefore, that of all the pages I have written, this one is proving to be the hardest. For it iswritten from the heart not the head, with feeling and gratitude so overwhelming that I fear anyoffering I make here can only be feeble in comparison to what has been given me.First and foremost this thesis was made possible because of the unquestioned love andsupport of my parents, Jean and Stuart Jarvis, and my sister, Nichola. It is hard to contemplatethe sacrifices they have made, the encouragement they have given, and the faith they alwayshad that I would one day finish. I might have put the words on paper, but it is they whofurnished me with the means, time, resolve, and sense to do so. Without Mum and Dad’sencouragement to continue with my education, their good council that has always provenjudicious, I doubt very much that I would have come this far. It is thus that I must correct amistake I made in the acknowledgements to my Master’s Thesis, when I noted that it wouldtake a “life time to repay all that they had given me.” I now see how wrong I was; even twolife times would not be enough.If the key to a successful dissertation lies with good parents, so too does it lie with goodteachers. Indeed, despite the distance in space and years past, this thesis reflects the committedteachings of two people who nurtured me; Professors Cherry Gertzel and Hin Leng of theFlinders University of South Australia. As will always be the case, I am indebted to theircountless hours of instruction and patience, and their encouragement which never faulted. Sotoo, I must thank Professor Bill Brugger, also of the Flinders University of South Australia.It is with great fondness that I remember my time there, the camaraderie, support, andinspiration they provided me. It seems a long time ago now, but I would like them all to knowhow it was they who made it possible for me to be writing this today. Thank you.In my move to Canada and the Department of Political Science at the University ofBritish Columbia, new friends, colleagues and teachers have been no less instrumental in mycompleting this thesis. In particular, my enrolment in Professor Holsti’ s graduate course onInternational Relations Theory, along with my dear friend Terry O’Callaghan, set me off downnew theoretical avenues. Despite both our flimsy attendance records at Professor Holsti’ s earlymorning classes — a fact that I am sure Professor Hoisti will attest to! —both of us devoteduntold hours to Professor Holsti’s reading list and still more hours to debating those readings,all to the dereliction of our other courses. I think it fair to say that we lived, ate, and breathedinternational relations theory day and night. Thus must I thank Professor Hoisti, in the firstPage viiinstance, for not failing me on my attendance record, and secondly, for his thesis supervisionthat proved invaluable; an elegant mixture of prudent intervention and suitable distance thatallowed me intellectual freedom but with the knowledge that I was being watched over and,when necessary, guided in the right direction.So too must I thank Terry O’Callaghan for his “supervision.” At great cost to both ofus, our frequent and very lengthy international phone calls were priceless. Whether for a chat,joke, some serious scholarly advice, or a friendly ear to comment on ideas, drafts and re-drafts,Terry’s help has been inestimable. Indeed, the completion of this thesis is, in no small measure,due to him. While words alone cannot express my gratitude, I am sure that in the years tocome the whisky I intend to buy for him will!I also owe a debt of gratitude to Professors Philip Resnick and Robert Jackson.Professor Resnick was extremely helpful, first as my Graduate Advisor upon my arrival toCanada, and then as a member of my thesis committee. And Professor Jackson offered someexceptionally insightful readings of my thesis that, without doubt, strengthened the finalversion. Needless to say, Professor Jackson’s presence on my thesis committee was very muchappreciated. To both of them, many thanks.To Jim, many, many thanks. Apart from myself, there is perhaps no other person morerelieved by the completion of this thesis than Jim Poon; an event that brings to an end histireless and meticulous proof-reading of my many drafts. Were he to have demanded paymentfor such punishment I would have gladly paid, knowing that it was I who had found a bargain.But such was never in question, a fact that betrays his kindness and generosity for which Ishall always remain indebted. As a final gesture I can but write the following; thhankyou veryymuuch!I must also thank three very special friends, Sharon Solomons, Annie White, and DianePadmore. Despite Sharon and Annie being from Edmonton, they proved to be wonderfulpeople and do Alberta proud! As has always been the case, my affection for them all will bebetter expressed toward the end of a future evening, when, as we consume the last of manybottles of red, I can better toast their friendship, support, help, and love. I hope it is with greatenthusiasm that they approach that evening, for the following day I shouldn’t wonder that theycurse me for the night before!And last, but by no means least, I have to thank Robert Crawford. The jokes wereappalling, the telephone conversations lengthy and frequent, and the fables extraordinary! This,I think, is what they mean by therapy, and it did the trick.I also extend my thanks to the Faculty of Graduate Studies for their financial supportthrough the University Graduate Fellowship program.DSLJ Vancouver, September 1995.To the loving memory of Irene and Leslie AllenRIPfarrIntroductionOf the many thousands of words written about post-modernist perspectives andinternational theory, of the debates and disputes between the new converts to post-modernismand the defenders of modernity, Chris Brown’s recent epiphany is perhaps the mostinformative, capturing the essence of this intellectual divide in a way that would seem to makestark the contrasts between them. Of post-modernism, he writes, “those that like this sort ofthing will fmd this the sort of thing they like — those who do not, will not.”1 And this, perhaps,has been the extent of the “Third Debate” to date; an intellectual rift interspersed with ritualdenunciations and affirmations of likes and dislikes. If the “Third Debate” was meant to bringclarity to a discipline otherwise congested with new approaches, issues areas and perspectives,then it has surely failed. The lexicon of post-modernism, its eclectic and discursive styles, hassucceeded only in making more obtuse the issues, problems and debates afoot in the discipline.Indeed, for want of clarity the “Third Debate” has become little more than rehearsed statementsof intransigence, spoken by those who announce and “celebrate” its arrival, and those whowould forestall its colonization and spread. Beyond such declarations, however, the “ThirdDebate” exists in name only, having been neither explored in terms of its consequences, norappraised critically in terms of its offerings and contributions.Aims and ObjectivesThis thesis attempts such an appraisal by exploring critically the motifs of post-moderntheory in International Relations. It does so out of a desire to make sense of the “Third Debate”Brown, C., (1994), ‘Review of Campbell, D., & Dillon, M., (1993)(eds.), The Political Subject ofViolence. Manchester: Manchester University Press, & Sjolander, C.T., & Cox, W.S., (1994)(eds.), BeyondPositivism: Critical Reflections on International Relations. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Reinner,” Millennium,Vol.23.No.1, Spring, p.142.Page 2and render it intelligible. Indeed, for many in the discipline the “Third Debate” and thesubterfuge of post-modern theory have become somewhat of a malediction; a cumbersomeexercise in semantic obfuscation that seems to cloud still further the subject of InternationalRelations and lose it amid a continental vernacular. If only because of its abstruse nomenclatureand penchant for inter-disciplinary travels, many in International Relations remain perplexedby the new interpretivism and the challenges it poses both to the discipline, its intellectualboundaries, and its theory. Hardly surprisingly, then, the “Third Debate” has become anungainly domain of recondite theoretical locutions, outracing those not versed in its idiomaticvocabulary, and rendering enigmatic its precise dimensions, leitmotifs, and divergent strandsof thought. Critical assessments of post-modern theory and the “Third Debate” have thereforebeen mute. Robert Gilpin, for example, can but lament the need for an “English translation”to such approaches and announce that, in the absence of one, he has “no idea what it means.”2Thus, amid pronouncements of this “new beginning,”3among the debris of old theories andthe invention of new ones, among new methodological perspectives, deconstructive strategiesand post-modern theories, practitioners, theorists and students alike find themselves stumblingabout with incertitude, lost in a discourse that prizes epistemological and ontologicallogomachy above clarity in communication. This is a “great debate” like none the disciplinehas ever experienced before.2 Gilpin, R.G., (1986), “The Richness of the Tradition of Political Realism,” in Keohane, R.O., (ed.),Neorealism and its Critics. New York: Columbia University Press, pp.303.Biersteker, T.J., (1989), “Critical Reflections on Post-Positivism in International Relations,”International Studies Quarterly, Vol.33,No.3, September, p.266.Page 3This thesis therefore aims to construct a baedeker to the “Third Debate and post-modern theory, in order that practitioners in the field might traverse the subterfuge of thesedebates and approaches and assess them critically for their utility to the study of internationalrelations. In a sense, then, this thesis might be understood as an operating manual to themechanics of post-modernist discourse, a means of glancing inside such theory to see its innerworkings, suppositions, motivations, biases, aims and objectives. I do so, however, not tocelebrate the language deracination endemic to post-modern perspectives, but so as to bypassit and thereby make transparent the ontological and epistemological foundations on which post-modern theory is itself constructed. The originality of the thesis therefore lies in its attempt toexpose the politics of post-modern international theory, whereby certain varieties of post-modernist scholarship have been plundered and pillaged of particular motifs, imported intoInternational Relations, and used in the pursuit of political ends. It is in this context that I alsoexplore the unknown continent of post-modern scholarship generally, attempting to develop aseries of heuristic typologies of post-modern theory in order that we might distinguish betweenthose varieties otherwise useful to International Relations from those that are not.Rationale for the StudyThe rationale for this undertaking, however, is not purely pedagogical but stems froma deep seated concern about the growing irrelevance and ethereality of theory in the discipline.Indeed, the discourse of International Relations has moved to a plateau so incorporeal as tomake its relevance to the actualities of international politics and the people whose lives andconcerns are the real stuff of international relations, extremely tenuous. Cries of “crisis,”disjuncture, theoretical perspectivism, and the umbrage of a “Dividing Discipline,” would seemPage 4to be making meaningless those disciplinary boundaries that otherwise give us a sense ofpurpose or common project.4 Theory in International Relations seems to be less aboutinternational politics than it does about metaphysical reflections of how it is that we have cometo know of international relations. Arguably, the sociology of knowledge has become thedefining motif of the “Third Debate,” causing us to lose sight of the subject we once use tostudy. This thesis is thus an attempt to regain sight of the subject of International Relations,and a call to practitioners to return to theoretical endeavours that aim to explain and understandthe phenomena of our subject matter.More specifically, though, this thesis is also borne of a suspicion of post-modernism,at least in the context of its importations into International Relations. The growing popularityof post-modernist perspectives in the discipline, for example, the ready acceptance by manyof the need to engage in “deconstructive practices,” the allegations of moral improprieties andthe imputation of disciplinary culpability in numerous horrors waged in the name of“modernity” and “science,” wreaks of a political witch hunt not before seen in the discipline.Theory, while always a powerful tool that can be used in the service of specific rationalities,seems increasingly to be a political instrument, hijacked for its destructive potential andwielded in accusatory and threatening fashion. This thesis is thus a defense of the edifice oftheory as “[o]ne of the crowning achievements of the past several centuries.” Indeed, it is adefense of “.. .theory as an idea,” as Nicholas Onuf put it, of “theory as an enterprise, theoryHoisti, K.J., (1985), The Dividing Discipline: Hegemony and Diversity in International Theory.Boston: Unwin Hyman.Page 5as an economic statement of what we think we know about the world and ourselves,” and of“theory as the grounds for judgement.”5The ArgumentBroadly conceived, then, this study is about what Thomas Biersteker calls this “newbeginning,” and what I shall argue is its fast approaching end. For despite the hopes forrenewal, the pretensions to openness, the claims to perspectivism, despite the foray intointerpretivism and the desire for new theoretical approaches and understandings, this thesisargues that post-modernist perspectives as they currently exist in International Relations havefailed on all these counts. In fact, the crowning issues of the “Third Debate,” epistemology andontology, have, I shall argue, been expropriated by certain proponents of post-modernism andused as diversionary facades to hide an essentially ideological locution. Under this guise, post-modernism, if not the “Third Debate” generally, has become a vehicle not for suggesting newways and methods to better our scholarship, but for dismantling the disciplinary basis of thatscholarship while calling for, and contributing to, a new political order. To this end, Iendeavour to develop a series of tools that might be applied exegetically to a critical readingof the discipline’s foremost champion of a post-modern perspective, Richard K. Ashley. If onlybecause Ashley pioneered “dissident” scholarship in the discipline, his work is singled out forspecial attention, emblematic of that variety of scholarship now endemic in the discipline, andfor which Ashley, almost single handedly, has set the tone of the debate and delimited a“project” that has come to dominate post-modernism in International Relations.Onuf, N.G., (1989), World of Our Making: Rules and Rule in Social Theory and InternationalRelations. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, p.11.Page 6The message of this thesis is therefore simple: amid the “Third Debate,” ideology hasgotten in the way of facts, discourse in the way of understanding, deconstruction in the wayof theory, post-modernism in the way of progress, and the “Third Debate” generally in the wayof studying international relations. However, I should forestall the impression that I oppose the“Third Debate” in its entirety and all post-modern theory. On the contrary, my concern is witha particular variety of post-modernism that, in International Relations, has come to dominatedissident scholarship to the exclusion of other post-modernist perspectives. As chapters threeand four will more fully elucidate, I target what I call “subversive” postmodernism, exemplifiedin the writings of Richard Ashley and Robert Walker, for taking the discipline down anideologically destructive road. Where the “Third Debate” might have proven a productive andhighly valuable exercise in theoretical evaluation and intellectual renewal, its intellectualhijacking and subsequent embrace of subversive post-modernism, has caused its devolution intoa meaningless and divisive exercise bent on destruction.Organization and MethodEmploying a critical exegetic methodology, this thesis begins with an historicaloverview of the development of the discipline and its attempts at theory construction. Chapterone is an effort at demonstrating the problem of “discipline” in International Relations, and ofrelating theory to that endeavour. So too is it an attempt at demonstrating the machinations thediscipline and its theory currently experience, situating this in the context of its poorintellectual ancestry and, more recently, in the context of post-modernist theory and the riseof perspectivism.Page 7Chapter two begins an exploration of the “Third Debate” and post-modem theory, notin terms of an exposition of its specific theoretical motifs, but of the effects of these motifs onthe discipline and theoretical endeavour. I thus address some of the consequences of the “ThirdDebate” and the newest radical perspectivism.In chapter three I turn to an analysis of post-modern theory in its entirety. In essence,I attempt both an understanding of post-modernism by offering two alternative readings andalso by developing a number of thematic ideal types as a means of desegregating the monolithof theory labelled “post-modern.” In part, chapter three is a taxonomical exercise, but also anexercise in revealing the different varieties of post-modernism in order that we might begin toevaluate their utility to International Relations.Chapters four and five then apply these categories via a critical exegetic analysis to thework of Richard Ashley. The underlying epistemological and ontological basis of his “project”is addressed, critically questioned and explored in terms of its contributions to the disciplineand theoretical endeavour.Finally, chapter six addresses the legacy and implications of post-modernist approachesin the discipline, situating this in a discussion of the functions of theory in InternationalRelations.IntroductionThe study of international relations, and the discipline more generally, is today in themidst of a “crisis.” The role and purpose of theory, the aims, objectives and parameters of thediscipline, the place of the scholar and practitioner, the advent of post-modem theory, and theincreasing number of voices that cry discontented and engage in “deconstructive” practices, hasbegun a period of meta-theoretic reappraisal and introspective self-analysis. Indeed,International Relations stands at an intellectual crossroads amid innumerable choices, problems,issues, theories, agendas and paradigms. Theorists are now urged to “reinvent,” “rearticulate”and “redefine” their project, to reexamine the scope and methods of the discipline.1 Thesesame theorists are beseeched to import exotic theories, to overhaul existing perspectives,dismantle old boundaries, approach new understandings, assess “new facts,” and rebuild fromthe ground up their disciplinary knowledge. But what can we expect from such meta-theoreticreappraisal where all previous concepts, categories, and theories, if not the discipline itself, arenow “essentially contested”?2 Where do we go next to better understand the world and thoseforces that shape it? What should the discipline of International Relations look like, do, andconcern itself with? And what should a theory of international relations focus upon, if indeedwe can any longer aspire to the construction of “grand theory” in international politics?I outline in this chapter both the historical and contemporary dilemmas of attemptingto answer these sorts of questions. In the first section of this chapter I point out the obvious,See, for example, Hoffman, M., (1991), “Restructuring, Reconstruction, Reinscription, Rearticulation: FourVoices in Critical International Theory,” Millennium: Journal of International Relations, Vol.20,No.2, pp.169-185.2 Gallie, W.B., (1956), “Essentially Contested Concepts,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol.56,pp.167-198.Page 9although often overlooked, fact that international political theory and the discipline areatraditional pursuits with no historical tradition on which to cement a disciplinary project. Putsimply, there is little, if any, authoritative intellectual precedent to inform our current concernsand dilemmas. Rather, “International Relations” must be understood as a newly createdintellectual space, albeit an awkward and ill-defined space that catches those unable to find ahome elsewhere in the social sciences; those who dare to cross borders and concern themselveswith the nebulous stuff of “international studies.”As a relatively new disciplinary invention, International Relations is experiencingadolescent bouts of crises, self-doubt and anxiety. The public displays of angst overdisciplinary identity and self-image, and the heightened concern over epistemological parentage,render us conspicuously unrecognizable as a discipline and suffused with “theoreticalinvisibility” as Fred Halliday recently observed.3 Unlike the established social sciences ofhistory, economics, or psychology, for example, where even the uninitiated can easily mapdisciplinary and intellectual boundaries, few would hazard a guess as to what the study of“international relations” or “international political theory” entails, “let alone the issuesinvolved.” To the average observer, for example, the breadth of our disciplinary enterprise isoften perceived to be no more than “a brisk combination of current affairs and common sense,”intermingled with the “odd historical reference.”4And while this is clearly unsatisfactory, lucidenunciations of our disciplinary boundaries are hardly forthcoming from professionalparticipants, who situate International Relations somewhere between the study of history,Halliday, F., (1991), “International Relations: Is There a New Agenda?” Millennium, Vol.20,No.1, p.66.ibid.Page 10jurisprudence, economics, philosophy, geography and politics, and vaguely concerned withissues of sociology and psychology, but not indebted to anyone of these pursuits in particular.What we do, let alone the parameters of our rarely defined project, are as elusive to theuninitiated as they are to the many who count themselves as professional students ofinternational relations.Section one of this chapter thus attempts to demonstrate how much of this incertitudeis a consequence of the poverty of our intellectual heritage. With few historical markers, fewbequeathed works of significance, and with little historical definition as to our “project,” aims,and objectives, International Relations continues to vacillate over its very being. If there is anhistorical pedigree to International Relations, it rests, I shall argue, in the historical absence ofInternational Relations as a discipline and as a discrete intellectual concern.In the second section of this chapter, I point out the theoretical and disciplinary fluxoccasioned by recent importations of continental philosophy. These, I argue, have caused yetfurther consternation for practitioners still in the midst of defining their disciplinary project letalone engaging in epistemological and ontological debates. The importation of deconstructionisttheory, post-structuralism and the various theoretical vignettes of post-modernism, for example,while expanding “discourse” also threaten to destroy the discipline through theoreticalfragmentation and destabilization. As Kalevi Hoisti notes, International Relations is the“Dividing Discipline.”5 But even this is too generous a description when characterizing theextent and depth of incommensurate discourse that now predominates. More likely is the caseHoisti, K.J., (1985), The Dividing Discipline: Hegemony and Diversity in International Theory. Boston:Unwin Hyman.Page 11that we are now the divided discipline, disunited in focus, method, and scope, estranged fromdiffering theoretical perspectives, intellectually segregated by specialized nomenclature, andsequestered by particular research interests, we are increasingly unacquainted with theexpanding terrain of our own discipline and prone to parochialism. Where Holsti, for example,identified a nascent intellectual perspectivism in terms of three broadly conceived schools ofthought (the Classical, Grotian, and Neo-marxist), he could still contain this perspectivismwithin a common disciplinary vessel; a united intellectual enterprise whose auspices concernedthe aims, objectives, and methods of International Relations. Arguably, however, this is nolonger the case as the second section of this chapter will attempt to demonstrate. Indeed, Idiffer from Holsti not only over his conception of a “classical tradition” that, in section one ofthis chapter, I argue never existed other than through retroactive intellectual constructions, butalso in the degree to which we can continue to treat International Relations as a discipline.Contra Holsti’ s depiction, I argue that the disciplinary integrity of International Relations isbeing eroded by an increasing number of disunited perspectives, that share neither a commonapproach nor understanding, and that actually challenge the legitimacy of InternationalRelations as a disciplinary enterprise. The second section of this chapter, then, narrates theconsequences of the discipline’s open door policy, where it has welcomed an increasingnumber of disparate intellectual approaches into its home, but by virtue of this liberality nowruns the risk of being emasculated by its own tolerance for intellectual dissonance.Page 12“The Saddest of Disciplines”The perplexing problem of writing on international political theory, to use Mansbach’sand Ferguson’s adage, is that it remains an “elusive quest.”6 Indeed in some respects it is anoxymoron; how can one write on something that has not existed historically? As Martin Wightso aptly put it:Now the difficulties begin: it is easy to recognize political theory, but not soeasy to recognize international theory, and one might suspect that historicallythere was no such thing. There is no obvious tradition of enquiry, or body oftheory and speculation, about relations between states, and about the problemsof obligations that arise in the absence of government. So the attempt to answerthe question, ‘What is international theory?’ only poses a second one, ‘Whereis international theory?’7Such an intellectual heritage few disciplines would envy, for unlike other disciplines itrepresents no heritage at all; merely footnotes and scattered references that make internationaltheory “hard to discover.”8 There is no interconnected genealogy from which scholars can6 Mansbach, R.W., & Ferguson, Y.H., (1986), “Values and Paradigm Change: The Elusive Quest forInternational Relations Theory,” in Karns, N.P., (ed.), Persistent Patterns and Emergent Structures in a WaningCentury. New York: Praeger, pp.11-34.Wight, M., (1991), International Theory: The Three Traditions. (edited by Cabriele Wight & Brian Porter),Leicester: Leicester University Press, p.1. Hans J. Morgenthau was of a similar conclusion, noting; “That menthroughout the ages have thought little of a theory of international politics is borne out by the fact that but rarelyan explicit attempt to develop such a theory has been made; as rare instances of such attempts, Kautilya andMachiavelli come to mind.” See Morgenthau, H.J., (1958), Dilemmas ofPolitics. Chicago: University of ChicagoPress, p.48.8 ibid. In contradistinction to Martin Wight’s position, Torbjorn L. Knutsen has recently attempted to counterthe “common assumption that the study of International Relations has no theoretical tradition,” and that, in fact,it displays a “chain of classic texts” as much as does political theory proper. See Knutsen T.L., (1992), A HistoryofInternational Relations Theory: An Introduction. Manchester: Manchester University Press, p.1. In a similargenre see also the work of Holzgrefe, J.L., (1989), “The Origins of Modern International Relations Theory,”Review of International Studies, Vol.15,No.1, January, pp.11-26. See also, Lijphart, A., (1974), “The Structureof the Theoretical Revolution in International Relations,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.1 8,No. 1, March,pp.41-74. Kalevi J. Holsti also argues of the existence of what he terms “the classical tradition,” albeit that thehegemony it enjoyed for so long has now ended. See, Holsti, K.J., (1985), The Dividing Discipline: Hegemonyand Diversity in International Theory. Boston: Allen & Unwin.Page 13define a lineage of theory concerned with international politics. And while most socialscientists are able to “build on firm ground and strong foundations because these are deededto them by their disciplines,” the “theory” on which the study of international politics isconducted is a retroactive construct; reconstructed from scattered writings and references andfrom traditions of enquiry concerned with history, law and philosophy.9Historically speaking,this was necessarily the case. Only with the Peace of Wesphalia in 1648 did inter-state relationsas constituted in the modern European era come into existence. And only since then haveinternational relations been viewed the consequence of the “Reasons of state” rather than “thereason of nature of Grotius or the reason of humanity and religion of Ours is anew discipline which, despite our readings of Thucydides and his observations of thePelopeimesian war, lacks disciplinary longevity and the deeding of concretized methodologyand theory; this, after all, was a work of history, not a theoretical discourse.” Much of whatOnuf, N.G., (1989), World of Our Making: Rules and Rule in Social Theory and International Relations.Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, p.36. An instance of the retroactive reconstructionof “international theory” is provided, for example, in the elegant writings of Martin Wight, particularly hisdelineation of three “paradigms” of “international theory:” the Realists or Machiavellians, the Rationalists orGrotians, and the Revolutionists or Kantians. See Wight, M., (1991), op.cit, pp.30-48. See also, Porter, B., (1978),“Patterns of Thought and Practice: Martin Wight’s International Theory,” in Donelan, M., (ed.), The Reason ofStates: A Study of International Political Theory. London: George Allen & Unwin, pp.64-74. More obviousexamples of the reinscription of historical texts with theoretical propinquity to International Relations would bethe current approbation of Thucydides. Kenneth Waltz, for example, sees Thucydides one of the first to recognize“the anarchic character of international politics;” Robert Gilpin that “Everything that the new realists findintriguing in the interaction of international economics and international politics can be found in The History ofthe Peloponnesian War;” and Robert Keohane that Thucydides is an example of some of the fundamentalassumptions of structural realism. See Garst, D., (1989), “Thucydides and Neorealism,” International StudiesQuarterly, Vol.33, pp.3-27.10 Olson, W.C., & Groom, A.J.R., (1991), International Relations Then and Now: Origins and Trends inInterpretation. London: Harper Collins, p.9.See the comments by Wight, M., (1966), “Why is there no international theory?,” in Butterfield, H., &Wight, M., (eds.), Diplomatic Investigations: Essays in the Theory of International Politics. London: GeorgeAllen & Unwin, p.32. And Bull, H., (1991), “Martin Wight and the theory of international relations,” in Wight,M., International Theory: The Three Traditions. (edited by Cabriele Wight & Brian Porter), Leicester: LeicesterPage 14we know of international politics, of diplomacy and war, has been “communicated less in theworks of political or international theory than in historical writings.” A consequence, onesuspects, due not so much to a “kind of recalcitrance of international politics to being theorizedabout,” but to a general disinterest in theorizing the international when political philosophyconsidered most that was important occurring within the nation-state.’2 Indeed, it “requireswide reading and considerable discrimination to elicit the principles or theories of internationalpolitics” from the philosophical discourse of the moderns. 13 This was the conclusion of F.H.Hinsley who noted that the study of international politics was “still in the state in whichbiology was before Darwin.”4For better or worse, the concerns of Enlightenment philosophy preferred to focus uponthe obligations between monarch, state, and citizenry, reflecting the emancipatory ferment ofrationalist thought and science as it struggled against feudalism. More obviously, however, ourphilosophical heritage reflects the “prejudice imposed by the sovereign state” uponEnlightenment philosophers, who assumed “the roots of man’s being [to] lie in the separatestate,” and that what was “right and good for him” was “centred there.” The concern with theUniversity Press, p.xxi.12 Wight, M., (1966), op.cit, pp.32-33. Wight’s assertion that international politics is anomalous, constitutinga sui generis, is refuted by Roy Jones who maintains that Wight has incorrectly concerned himself “in detailedand elaborate ways with mythology.” See Jones, R.E., (1988), “The Myth of the Special Case in InternationalRelations,” Review of International Studies, Vol. 14,No.4, October, pp.267-74. Similarly, Jones had earlierargued, albeit rather beratingly, for the closure of the “English School,” attacking Wight for a litany of apparentfailings. See Jones, R.E., (1981), “The English School of International Relations: A Case for Closure,” Reviewof International Studies, Vol.7, pp.1-13. An excellent rebuke to Jones’ argument is provided by Grader, S.,(1988), “The English School of International Relations: Evidence and Evaluation,” Review of InternationalStudies, Vol.14,No.1, pp.29-44.ibid, p.24.14 Hinsley, F.H., (1963), Power and the Pursuit of Peace. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.6.Page 15modern nation-state, of the obligations between it and those within it, made internationalpolitics a “wasteland between states.”15 Enlightenment philosophers were, subsequently,predisposed to a “juristic. . .belief in the sovereign state as the consummation of politicalexperience and activity which,” argued Wight, “has marked Western political thought since theRenaissance.”16Subsequently, not only did this “prejudice” circumscribe reflection on thingsinternational, but so too did it influence what little reflection there was. The state’s boundedand territorializing rationality, for example, particularly its physical embodiment but also itscontractual essence of rights and obligations, presupposed a pre-contractual understanding ofthe international sphere. Hobbes, in particular, assumed society a contractual outcome amongmoral agents, enforced via the authority of a common law. The international sphere, on theother hand, approached the state of nature where, in the absence of bounded authority andcontractual obligations, the “...condition ofMan” prevails; “...a condition ofWarre ofevery oneagainst every one...”17 International society is “nothing;” it did not, nor could it exist in theabsence of bounded authority, in the absence of the state. It was what international politics15 Donelan, M., (1978), “The Political Theorists and International Theory,” in Donelan, M., (ed.), The Reasonof State: A Study of International Political Theory. London: George Allen & Unwin, pp.77.16 Wight, M., (1966), op.cit, p.21. See also the discussion by Jackson, R.H., (1990), “Martin Wight,International Theory and the Good Life,” Millennium: Journal of International Studies, Vol.1 9.No.2, pp.261 -272; Epp, R., (1992), “The Multiple Identities ofMartin Wight,” Mimeograph, paper delivered to the InternationalStudies Association Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, April 1-4.17 Hobbes, T., (1968), Leviathan. (edited by C.B. Macpherson), Penguin, p.189.Page 16were not, as judged by referents internal to the nation-state, that defined the so-called“classical” tradition of international theory exemplified in the writings of Hobbes:’8I put it for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restlesse desirefor Power after power, that ceaseth only in Death. And the cause of this, is notalways that a man hopes for a more intensive delight, than he has alreadyattained to; or that he cannot be content with a moderate power: but because hecannot assure the power and means to live well, which he hath present, withoutthe acquisition of more. And from hence it is, that Kings, whose power isgreatest, turn their endeavours to the assuring it at home by Lawes, or abroadby Wars.19There was no community of states, only the pre-social existence of independent agentswho, because of the “Competition of Riches, Honour, Command, or other power” would be“enclineth to Contention, Enmity, and War.”2° If any tradition of thought can be said to haveguided the study of international politics it is surely this one: the realist tradition, or moreignominiously, the men of “blood and iron and imniorality.”21 Of this tradition alone can wetrace a lineage of recurrent themes. In Hegel, for example, international politics was a“...maelstrom of external contingency and the inner particularity of passions, private interestsand selfish ends, abilities and virtues, vices, force and wrong. All these,” he said, “swirltogether, and in their vortex the ethical whole itself, the autonomy of the state, is exposed toSee the discussion in Hoisti, K.J., (1985), The Dividing Discipline: Hegemony and Diversity inInternational Theory. Boston: Unwin Hyman, pp.15-40.19 Hobbes, T., (1968), op.cit, p.161.20 ibid21 Bull, H., (1991), op.cit, p.xi See also the excellent discussion in Waltz, K., (1965), Man, the State andWar. New York: Columbia University Press, pp.159-186. It is ironic to note, however, that Hobbes, while heldin such high regard by international relations scholars, displayed remarkable brevity in addressing the subject ofinternational politics. As Cornelia Navari observed; “Since Hobbes wrote so little about relations between states,it is odd that there should be a ‘Hobbesian tradition’ of international relations.” See Navari, C., (1982), “Hobbesand the ‘Hobbesian Tradition’ in International Thought,” Millennium, Vol.11,No.3, p.203.Page 17contingency.”22 Still later do the writings of Morgenthau reaffirm Hobbes’ dictum that: “...thestate creates morality as well as law and that there is neither morality or law outside thestate.”23Little wonder that the study of international politics became a residual exercise,understood as the “untidy fringe of domestic politics.”24 Few were disposed to reflect uponthings international, which according to Olson and Groom, made the “period betweenWestphalia and the defeat of Napoleon” one “characterized neither by peace nor by anysystematic theory of international relations.”25 Instead, ceded to us has been a philosophicpedigree that tended to reflect:• . .on the future of relations among states either as philosophers of history certainof the direction history would take, or as reformers convinced that there wereinstitutions, methods, and ideas which could ensure that harmony prevailedamong nations and whose triumph it was necessary to insure.26In such light we can understand the texts of the Abbe Saint-Pierre, later of Kant,Rousseau and Bentham, and still later of Woodrow Wilson.27 But if they represent our22 Knox, T.M., (1967), Hegel’s Philosophy ofRight. Clarendon Press: Oxford, p.215. See also Williams, H.,(1992), International Relations in Political Theory. London: Open University Press, pp.92-104.23 Morgenthau, H.J., (1958), op.cit, p.81. Earlier Morgenthau wrote; “Above the national societies there existsno international society so integrated as to be able to define for them the concrete meaning of justice or equality,as national societies do for their members.” See Morgenthau, H.J., (1951), In Defense of the National Interest.New York: Alfred A. Knopf, p.34.24 Wight, M., (1966), op.cit, p.21.25 Olson, W.C., & Groom, A.J.R., (1991), op.cit, p.22.26 Hoffinami, 5., (1965), The State of War: Essays on the Theory and Practice of International Politics.New York: Frederick A. Praeger, pp.3-4.27 See Bentham, J., (1974), “Plan for Universal and Perpetual Peace,” in Jacob, M.C., (ed.), Peace Projectsof the Eighteenth Century. New York: Garland, pp.11-44. Wilson, W., (1923), Woodrow Wilson’s Case for theLeague of Nations. New York: Kennikat Press. Charles de Saint-Pierre, Abbe de Tiron, (1974), “A ShorterProject for Perpetual Peace,” in Jacob, M.C., (ed.), op.cit, pp.1-61. Kant, I., (1957), Perpetual Peace. (edited byPage 18heritage, much of their writing “ largely repellent and intractable in form;” “. . .scattered,unsystematic, and mostly inaccessible...” 28 As Stanley Hoffmann noted, international theorywas bequeathed little other than:• .the recipes of Machiavelli; the marginal comments on the state of nature byHobbes’; Locke’s and Rousseau’s writings, some pages of Hume; two short andtantalizing essays by Kant, compressed considerations by Hegel, andoversimplified fragments by Marx.29In large measure, philosophy has refused to exist outside the nation-state; how couldit when the state represented the “ethical whole” and all exterior to it an amoral “vortex”?30This, of course, was an extension of the Hellenic tradition. Cicero, for example, argued thatthe interests of the polis and of those under its jurisdiction were above morality; Thucydidesthat the “strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have toaccept;” and Thrasymachus “that justice or right is simply what is in the interest of the strongerparty.”31 Beyond the bounds of the state existed only the particularity of state interests wheregovernment was “a matter of particular wisdom, not of universal Providence.”32 But this ishardly a substantive inheritance in comparison to other social sciences, displaying an etiologyLewis White Beck), New York: Liberal Arts Press. Hoffhann, S., (1965), op.cit, especially chapter 3, “Rousseauon War and Peace,” pp.54-87. Hoffrnann, S., & Fidler, D.P., (1991) (eds.), Rousseau on International Relations.Oxford: Clarendon Press. And, Rousseau, J.J., (1974), “A Project for Perpetual Peace,” in Jacob, M.C., (ed.),op.cit.28 Wight, M., (1966), op.cit, p.20.29 Hoffmann, S., (1977), “An American Social Science: International Relations,” Daedalus, Vol.1, Summer,p.41.30 The recalcitrance of the philosophes’ of the Enlightenment to engage in speculation on international matters,in fact their hostility to it as manifested in their anti-diplomacy, is succinctly addressed in Der Derian, J., (1987),On Diplomacy: A Genealogy of Estrangement. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, pp.160-167.31 Knox, T.M., (1967), op.cit, p.214., Knutsen T.L., (1992), op.cit, p.32.32 As discussed in Der Derian, J., (1987), op.cit, pp.102.Page 19situated more in the speculative realm of “what ought-to-be” as Hegel put it; an endlessspeculative project “since its actuality depends on different wills each of which issovereign.”33 Morgenthau was inclined to agree, noting that “Men” have generally “dealt withinternational politics on one of three levels, all alien to theory: history, reform, or pragmaticmanipulation.”That is to say, they have endeavoured to detect the facts and meaning ofinternational politics through the knowledge of the past; or they have tried todevise a pattern of international politics more in keeping with an abstract idealthan the empirical one; or they have sought to meet the day-by-day issues ofinternational politics by trial and error.34Consequently, from Hobbes to Rousseau and from Kant to Bentham, there were fewsystematic attempts at explaining and understanding the nature of international politics. In itsplace observation and description were offered as poor substitutes for explanation, and thebestowal of a theory of human nature and the will to power was hardly a sufficient basis forthe construction of theory concerned with an increasingly complex set of global phenomena.Thus it is that international political theory, if by that we mean the “systematic study”of international relations, is a relatively recent development.35 Only in the Twentieth centuryibid, p.212.Morgenthau, H.J., (1958), op.cit, p.48.See, for example, the discussion in Hoffinann, S., (1965), op.cit, pp.3-21. Useful overviews of thedevelopment of the discipline are provided in Olson, W.C., (1972), “The Growth of a Discipline,” in Porter, B.,(ed.), The Aberystwyth Papers: International Politics 1919-1969. London: Oxford University Press, pp.3-29. And,Bull, H., (1972), “The Theory of Intemational Politics, 1919-1969,” in Porter, B., (ed.), op.cit, pp.30-55. Veryuseful discussions can also be found in Thompson, K., (1952), “The Study of Intemational politics: A Survey ofTrends and Developments,” The Review ofPolitics, Vol.14,No.4, October, pp.433-67.Fox, W.T., & Fox, A.B.,(1961), “The Teaching of Intemational Relations in the United States,” World Politics, Vol.13 ,No.3, April,pp.339-359. Fox, W.T., (1949), “Interwar Intemational Relations Research: The American Experience,” WorldPolitics, Vol.2,No. 1, October, pp.67-79. Dunn, F.S., (1949), “The Present Course in Intemational RelationsResearch,” World Politics, Vol.2,No. 1, October, pp.80-95.Page 20can we begin to observe anything like a “tradition” of scholarship concerned with analyzinginter-state relationships and developing analytical and theoretical apparatus to explain these.However, it is not apparent that even our most recent past has served us well. While we nowtalk of a “discipline” of International Relations, often euphemistically since we typically featureas sub-fields of political science, history or law, the quest for theory, at least paradigmatictheory of the Kuhnian type, remains elusive.36 And while histories of the theories ofinternational politics have been constructed, “traditions” invented, the pages of political theoryand philosophy reread duly noting references to things international, to war, and to the reasonof state and diplomacy, we still have no Darwin, Durkheim, Smith, no Plato nor Aristotle uponwhom to build theoretical foundations with certitude.37 Try as we may, we can never makethe parable of Rousseau’s Stag Hunt, or the Kantian idealism of a single human republictailored on Dante’s imperium mundi, the foundational stuff of international political theory.38Thus, save for a few treatises, the poverty of our intellectual heritage makes ours the “saddestof disciplines.”3936 See, for example, the introductory comments in Ferguson, Y.H., & Mansbach, R.W., (1988), The ElusiveQuest: Theory and International Politics. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, pp.3-5.Obviously I do not insist that theoretical incertitude is unique to international political theory. The socialsciences generally have long suffered from a theoretical “infancy” that has become somewhat of a platitudeamongst biographers of the field. My point, however, is that this is perhaps more evident in international politicaltheory than in the more established and intellectually defined pursuits of say economics, history, or sociology,for example.Wight, M., (1991), op.cit, pp.40-41.Donelan, M., (1978), op.cit, p.75.Page 21The Deeding of Strong Foundations?In many respects, this rather incongruous, if not dissymmetric ancestry prefiguredrecurrent problems the discipline of International Relations and its theory would experience.Martin Wight, for instance, argued that “international theory...[was]...marked, not only bypaucity but also by intellectual and moral poverty;” hardly a robust foundation on which toconstruct a discipline.40 In fact, debate over the founding of the first chair of InternationalRelations in 1919 reigned as late as 1935, illustrative of the “lack of intellectual discipline”prevalent even throughout the inter-war years. Sir Alfred Zimmern, for example, then Chairof International Relations at Oxford, argued against a separate subject and instead urged a“world orientation” of sociology, politics and history.4’ As to what constituted the subjectmatter of international studies, Zimmern ecumenically advised that “the indispensable nucleusof the subject’ was contained in political science, political economy, international law,geography, history, sociology and political and moral philosophy.”42 Few disciplines can boastsuch a well defined beginning! Yet Zimniern’s comments reflected not only how tenuous were° Wight, M., (1966), op.cit, p.20.41 The first chair in International Relations was named after Woodrow Wilson and established at theUniversity College of Wales, Aberystwyth, in 1919. It was first held by Sir Alfred Zimmern for 2 years who thenresigned later to become the first Montague Burton professor of international relations at Oxford in August, 1930.See the discussion in Olson, W.C., (1972), op.cit, pp.5,12-13. See also Markwell, D.J., (1986), “Sir AlfredZimmem Revisited: Fifty Years On,” Review of International Studies, Vol. 12,No.4, October, pp.279-92. Onthe founding of the first chair in International Relations at Aberystwyth, see the discussion by Porter, B., (1989),“David Davies: a Hunter After Peace,” Review ofInternational Studies, Vol.1 5,No. 1, January, pp.27-36.A usefuldiscussion of the development of the discipline is also provided in Halliday, F., (1990), “The Pertinence ofInternational Relations,” Political Studies, Vol.38, pp.502-16.42 As quoted in Olson, W.C., & Groom, A.J.R., (1991), op.cit, p.90. See also the short introductory remarksby Zimmern, A., (1939), University Teaching of International Relations. Paris: International Institute ofIntellectual Co-operation, League of Nations, pp.6-13. The eclecticism which Zimmern thought entailed in thestudy of international relations is instructive of the disciplines’ amorphous beginnings which, with hindsight, readas if a comic parody of our profession, especially given Zimmern’s verbose and elegant style.Page 22the discipline’s foundations, but were prescient of how polymorphic its subsequentdevelopment would be. Consequently, for a long time the study of international relationsremained subsumed among the disciplines of history and law, where the history of internationalrelations and the “study of legal norms,” which attempted to “order these relations,” obviatedenquiry into their politics.43 This reflected the fact that only in the twentieth century wasforeign policy “democratized.” Diplomatic issues finally “moved from the calculations of thefew to the passions of the many.” Where previously international politics had been the “sportof kings, or the preserve of cabinets—the last refuge of secrecy, the last domain of largelyhereditary castes of diplomats” —-now it was debated in the public domain and amenable toanalysis in the academic one.44 International relations were thus politicised and an intellectualspace made for their analysis; the catastrophes of the First and Second World Wars and thedeaths of untold millions demanded no less. It was these concerns that motivated the writingsof Carr and, more obviously, of Hans Morgenthau.45 And the urgency of these concernscombined with the travesty of events made for the hasty formulation of theoretical models anda tendency toward empiricist methodologies.46 The latter reflected not only Morgenthau’s zestto reform, educate and “erect an empirical science opposed to the utopias of the internationallawyers,” but also the nature of the “subject matter” and, not least, the country in which theseformulations were most obviously attempted, the United States. International Relations is, after‘ Hoffinann, S., (1965), op.cit, p.4.Hofth-iann, S., (1977), op.cit, pp.42-43.‘ See Carr, E.H., (1964), The Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1919-1939. New York: Harper Torchbooks. Morgenthau,H.J., (1967), Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. New York: Alfred Knopf.‘ Hoffinann, 5., (1965), op.cit, pp.4-5.Page 23all, “[ajn American Social Science” as Hoffmann so elegantly told us; “[blorn and raised inAmerica.”47 Yet it was born and raised not so much from intellectual deeds, as fromcircumstance and need. In fact, we cannot separate the growth of the discipline from the rolethe United States played in global affairs after 1945.48 Superpower status and the new-foundrole of “world policeman” demanded the input of expert guidance in America’s dealings withforeign governments, ensuring government patronage of the discipline. Consequently,theoretical development in the discipline was drawn towards empirical analysis, reflecting theease with which empirical theory could inform the conundrums of foreign policy, militarypreparedness, nuclear proliferation and strategic planning. This, combined with the post-warreaction to the ideological excesses of fascism and communism, made empirical theoryattractive in that its purported neutrality supposedly offered a means of escaping dogmatismin the pursuit of knowledge. Whatever the case, empirical theory became the foundation stoneon which international political theory would be constructed. For Hoffmann this seemed onlynatural, since “.. .the contrast between the precepts of law and the realities of politics wassufficiently greater in the international realm than in the domestic realm, to make one want toshift from the normative to the empirical.49 On this perspective, Morgenthau easily definedthe parameters of our discipline, noting that we must consider:The national interest defined in terms of power, the precarious uncertainty of theinternational balance of power, the weakness of international morality, thedecentralized character of international law, the deceptiveness of ideologies, theHoffmann, S., (1977), op.cit, pp.41 & 59.48 ibid, p.47.ibid, p.42. See also Hoffrnann, S., (1965), op.cit, pp.4-5.Page 24inner contradictions of international organization, the democratic control offoreign policy, the requirements of diplomacy, the problem of war.. •50It was these “phenomena and problems of international politics” that Morgenthauinsisted “theory must take account.”5’From these foundations, however, we cannot pronounce a discipline exuding theoreticalcertitude or, indeed, a consensus over its role, purpose and very existence. There is, as PaulKeal notes, increasing “dispute about how international relations should be interpreted andunderstood.”52 Incertitude in our ways of knowing and doing international political theory, ofwhat is to be studied and how, is ever more prevalent. And, as if foretold in the storyrecounted above, the debate over empiricism and positivism, and the nature, role, and purposeof the discipline, now consumes much intellectual energy. Rather than strong foundations andthe building of a robust stock of theoretical knowledge, international theory looks to becracking at the edges; its foundations crumbling amid the onslaught of perspectivism andepistemological debate.Wither the FoundationsThe current machinations in international political theory are in marked contrast to onlya few decades previous where James Rosenau, for example, could write of a “science” ofinternational relations, noting:° Morgenthau, I-l.J., (1958), op.cit, pp.47-48.‘ ibid, p.48.52 Keal, P., (1991), “Ethical Issues and International Relations,” in Higgott, R., & Richardson, J.L., (eds.),International Relations: Global and Australian Perspectives in an Evolving Discipline, Canberra: Departmentof International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University, p.164.Page 25As a focus of study, the nation-state is no different from the atom or the singlecell organism. Its patterns of behaviour, idiosyncratic traits, and internal structureare as amenable to the process of formulating and testing hypotheses as are thecharacteristics of the electron or the molecule.53Rosenau reflected no more than conventional wisdom, prevalent since the founding ofthe discipline. Sir Alfred Zimmern, for example, had seen in “political science” the means togood scholarship contiguous with “precision and proof:”.that politics can be studied in Universities, in as scientific a spirit as any othersubject of study, whether human or natural, is a proposition which does notadmit of discussion in a University such as Oxford, which has been a home ofsuch studies since the days of Occam in the thirteenth century...54The scientific method, under the auspices of the behaviouralist revolution andquantificationist techniques, would do for International Relations what they had for the naturalsciences: provide certainty, foundations, and the basis on which to build cumulative knowledge.In science lay certainty and clarity, so much so that Zimmern, in his inaugural lecture atOxford in February, 1931, spoke of “a Chair for the preaching of International Relations” tocorrect an age “exceptionally stupid” in character.55 This “quest for certainty” made for anoutburst of “premature theoretical formulation,” and a despondency when certainty in our waysof knowing remained elusive. More conspicuously, however, it reified science in the discipline,unleashing a “desire to calculate the incalculable” with ever more data sets and “objective”methodologies.56 In many respects, of course, this has proven a failed project.57 TheRosenau, J.N., (1980), The Scientific Study of Foreign Policy. New York: Nicholas, pp.32.M Sir Alfred Zimmern as quoted in Markwell, D.J., (1986), op.cit, p.289.Sir Alfred Zimmern as quoted in ibid, p.289. Carr, E.H., (1964), The Twenty Years Crisis, 1919-1939. NewYork, Harper & Row, p.39.Hoffimann, S., (1977), op.cit, p.57.Page 26mounting attacks on empirical theory and positivism, for example, particularly the rise ofreflectivist approaches, has made international political theory perspectivist. Arguably, this hasnurtured a “more complex theoretical conspectus than has previously prevailed,” oneincreasingly aware of the economic, technological, and environmental dimensions ininternational politics.58 Greater theoretical complexity, however, has not been accompaniedby increased theoretical clarity. Ideas and approaches have not been distilled so much as theyhave multiplied, leading to theoretical fragmentation if not outright confusion. Internationaltheory now resembles a complicated montage that houses a plethora of competing researchagendas, academic interests, theories, methodologies and projects under the generic rubric ofInternational Relations, or still more eclectically, International Studies. We seem to be a littlebit of everything, but nothing in particular. Everything these days appears to be globalized: theenvironment, the economy, trade, investment, even such mundane things as televisionprogrammes, fashion, and consumer products. We “are engaged in international studies,”remarks James Rosenau, “when the world is no longer organized along international lines,” butinstead is transnationalized, no longer “state-centered.”59At base, these arguments derive from what are perceived to be “new” realities thatchange systemically the “location of political [and economic] life.’t They represent a “crisis”See the retrospective assessment of science and International Relations by Puchala, D.J., (1990), “Woe tothe Orphans of the Scientific Revolution,” Journal ofInternational Affairs, Spring/Summer, Vol.44,No. 1, pp.59-80.58 Higgott, R., (1991), “International Relations in Australia: An Agenda for the 1990s,” in Higgott, R., &Richardson, J.L., (1991), op.cit, p.397.Rosenau, J., (1980), The Study of Global Interdependence: Essays on the Transnationalization of WorldAffairs. London: Frances Pinter, p.11.Page 27of sovereignty, where “accounts of political community formalized in the principle of statesovereignty are being rearticulated in response to profound structural transformations on aglobal scale.”6° Whether it be the proliferation of “international agencies and transnationalorganizations,” the “increasingly complex political division of labor that cuts across nationalboundaries and blurs the dividing line between foreign policy and domestic politics,” or theeffects of technology, economic interdependence, and global production and markets, all these“call into question the traditional understanding of state sovereignty.” Consequently, as JosephCamilleri observes, it is not simply the “size of political entities or even the demarcation oftheir boundaries” that is important any longer, but rather that “the very meaning of boundaries”and of political domain makes illusionary the “notion of state sovereignty” and thus compelsus to abandon our traditional theoretical categories and develop new ones.6’ The whole gambitof our enterprise, of what is to be studied and how, what theory should target for explanationand understanding, indeed what type of theory is appropriate, has become a veritableconundrum of competing interpretations and intransigent ideological battles.In only a few short years we have come full circle, from a “science” of internationalpolitics and an optimism that certitude and theoretical foundations simply awaited intellectualdiscovery, to the current pessimism, or at least anxiety, where leading theorists now pronouncethat “[i]nternational theory is in a state of disarray,” that the discipline is divided and prone to60 Walker, R.B.J., & Mendlovitz, S.H., (1990), “Interrogating State Sovereignty,” in Walker, R.B.J., &Mendlovitz, S.H., (eds.), Contending Sovereignties: Redefining Political Community. Boulder, Colorado: LynneRienner Publishers, pp.7-8.61 Camilleri, J.A., (1990), “Rethinking Sovereignty in a Shrinking, Fragmented World,” in Walker, R.B.J., &Mendlovitz, S.H., (eds.), Contending Sovereignties: Redefining Political Community. Boulder, Colorado: LynneRienner Publishers, pp.28,33,39. See also, Camilleri, J.A., & Falk, J., (1992), End ofSovereignty?: The Politicsof a Shrinking and Fragmenting World. Brookfield, Vennont: Elgar.Page 28the vestiges of parochialism.62 Fred Halliday, for example, describes international politicaltheory as beset by a “pervasive sense of entropy, and even of crisis.”63 For Mark Hoffman,the discipline is at a “major crossroads,” caught within an intellectual malaise such that thereis no “longer any clear sense of what the discipline is about, what its core concepts are, whatits methodology should be, what issues and central questions it should be addressing.”64Ashley, Walker, and Campbell tend to agree, seeing previously “marginalized voices” andintellectual “dissidents” fragmenting the hitherto dominant narratives of realism.65 Theresulting meta-theoretical ferment has forced international political theory into a self-imposed“epistemological critique” which, for James Der Derian, questions “the very language, concepts,methods, and history...” that have previously governed the “tradition of thought in the field.”In fact, notes Der Derian, “International Relations is facing a variety of philosophicalinsurgencies,” with most of them questioning the discipline’s existing foundations and theory,and all of them responding to the “monologue of tradition” by revalorising a “dialogicalapproach.”66 For Yosef Lapid, this confirms his “lingering suspicion that something is still62 Hoisti, K., (1985), op.cit, p.1.Halliday, F., (1985), “A ‘Crisis’ of International Relations,” International Relations, Vol.8,No.4, November,p.405.64 Hoffman, M., (1987), “Critical Theory and the Inter-Paradigm Debate,” Millennium, Vol.1 6.No.2, Summer,p.231.65 See Ashley, R.K., & Walker, R.B.J., (1990), “Speaking the Language of Exile: Dissident Thought inInternational Studies,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.34,No.3, September, pp.259-268. George, J., &Campbell, D., (1990), “Patterns of Dissent and the Celebration of Difference: Critical Social Theory andInternational Relations,’ International Studies Quarterly, Vol.34,No.3, September, pp.269-94.66 Der Derian, J., (1988), “Introducing Philosophical Traditions in International Relations,” Millennium,Vol.17.No.2, p.189.Page 29radically wrong with international theory.”67 The “theory question,” as Lapid puts it, is againresonating throughout the discipline, marking perhaps the greatest interlocution of all the “greatdebates” the discipline has yet experienced.Symptomatic of this meta-theoretical flux is the “lack of an agreed core to thesubject.”68 Ferguson and Mansbach argue that this has made for “unprecedented disarray” inthe “theories of international relations.” As they sardonically note: “Like the walls that keptpeople apart, those separating schools of thought are also tumbling down, but, as a result, theremay today be less anarchy in world politics than in theories about it.”69Redolent of this is the fact that, unlike previous theoretical debates, the current onelacks a central theoretical matrix. It is not that various theories battle with one another overwhat the relevant actors are in world politics, or over the appropriate “levels of analysis” thatshould be invoked to study them—although, of course, these still comprise a major debate inthe discipline. Rather, “current developments in international theory constitute a shift of a muchgreater order and magnitude” than observed in the previous four decades, one that might becharacterized as the “search for thinking space,” to paraphrase Foucault.7° George andCampbell perhaps better capture this depth of rupture, noting:67 Lapid, Y., (1989), “The Third Debate: On the Prospects of International Theory in a Post-Positivist Era,”International Studies Quarterly, Vol.33,No.3, September, p.237.68 Hoffman, M., (1987), op.cit, p.231.69 Ferguson, Y.H., & Mansbach, R.W., (1991), “Between Celebration and Despair: Constructive Suggestionsfor Future International Theory,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.35,No.4, p.363.70 Hoffman, M., (1991), “Restructuring, Reconstruction, Reinscription, Rearticulation: Four Voices in CriticalInternational Theory,” Millennium, Vol.20.No.2, p.169, & George, J., (1989), “International Relations and theSearch for Thinking Space: Another View of the Third Debate,” International Studies Quarterly,,September, p.273.Page 30The new dissent has been concerned with the discourse of international relations,supplementing concern about the subjects of international relations with a focuson the discourse of those subjects that makes them (and not others) historicallypossible.7’This “new dissent” in theorizing is not endemic to the discipline but reflective of alarger “disquiet” throughout the social sciences. As Richard Bernstein argues, it derives froma “growing sense that something is wrong with the way in which the relevant issues andoptions are posed” and represents a desire to change the “categorical structure and patternswithin which we think and act.”72 And while, for Lapid, such an undertaking presupposes anexcursion into an “intellectual labyrinth” it does, at the same time, invite “the serious studentof IR” to “consider afresh the problem of how to picture world society” and to reconsider ourmodes of theory construction. Consequently, as never before, questions of theory andmethodology, particularly epistemological and ontological debates, have found a new“ the discipline’s heartland, the United States.”74 As Higgott has noted, theconsequence of this has been a reopening;.of the speculative nature of international relations as a discipline in which ourtools of trade — concepts such as balance of power, state-as-actor, sovereignty,national interest, security and so on — are not treated as givens and asserted but71 George, J., & Campbell, D., (1990), “Patterns of Dissent and the Celebration of Difference: Critical SocialTheory and International Relations,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.34,No.3, September, p.289.72 Richard Bernstein as quoted in ibid, p.270.Lapid, Y., (1989), “Quo Vadis International Relations? Further Reflections on the ‘Next Stage’ ofInternational Theory,” Millennium, Vol.1 8.No. 1, p.77. Banks, M., (1985), “The Inter-Paradigm Debate,” in Light,M., & Groom, A.J.R., (eds.), International Relations: A Hand Book OfCurrent Theory. London: Frances Pinter,p.8.Richardson, J.L., (1991), “The State of the Discipline: A Critical Practitioner’s View,” in Higgott, R., &Richardson, J.L., (1991), op.cit, p.19.Page 31seen.. .as ‘essentially contested concepts’ in need of continual redefinition,contextual location and explanation.75Higgott, however, fails to appreciate the depth of rupture; it is not merely that structuresand processes have been problematized and exposed to “continual redefinition,” but that thoseknowledge systems which informed such definitions and explanations in the first place are nowthemselves contested. Indeed, for Hoffman, it is not simply “reinterpretation but a reinscriptionof what ‘theory’ is all about” that is needed: that is, what theory means and what its place androle are, should be critically assessed.76 Consequently, international political theory is now“a fundamentally contested domain,” where, says Michael Banks, it is “naive” to discussinternational relations “on the basis of the facts.”77 The tradition of enquiry which answeredGabriel Almond’s plea for scholarly “involvement through detachment:” “a passionate beliefthat the world...[ improved through dispassionate enquiry,” is now challenged via theimportation of deconstructionism and semeiology into International Relations. Whereknowledge systems were once considered benign investigative tools, now they are thought tobe instruments of power; specific rationalities reified into what Rorty has called “PrivilegedRepresentations.”78 Theory construction and the discipline have lost their innocence, andHiggott, R., (1991), op.cit, p.395.Hoffman, M., (1991), op.cit, p.178.T.J. Biersteker as quoted in Lapid, Y., (1989), op.cit, p.238. Banks, M., (1985), op.cit, p.7.G.A. Almond as quoted in Lapid, Y., (1989), ‘Quo Vadis International Relations? Further Reflections onthe ‘Next Stage’ of International Theory,” Millennium, Vol.18.No.1, p.81. See also Rorty, R., (1980), Philosophyand the Mirror ofNature. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, pp.165-209. This position is takenfrom Foucault, who engages in a “reversement of traditional views of the intellectual,” noting that the intellectualis always “determined by specific events” and part of a knowledge-power system. See, for example, the discussionin Barnet, E.T., (1989), Structuralism and the Logic ofDissent: Barthes, Derrida, Foucault, Lacan. Hong Kong:University of Illinois Press, pp.170-183.Page 32theory itse1f, not what it purports to explain, has become the battle ground. Subsequently,everything previous, from those accumulated “facts,” learned wisdoms and inculcated“knowledge,” from traditions of inquiry to various methodologies, are rendered problematic:such knowledge represents merely a derivative outcome of particular modes of thinking whichare now “contested.” The hope for “progress” in theory building has given way to a feeling ofretrogression. Olson and Onuf for example, argue that the last fifteen years of the disciplineand its theory has betrayed an air of “uncertainty and slippage,” and that its overalldevelopment has been antithetic to “a series of logical steps” leading to “greater discoveries andinsights.”79 Grand theoretic traditions, long the aspirant of those in the discipline, appear tobe withering. Increasingly, current wisdom seems to be toward contextuality where, notesSmith, “a variety of religions, cultures, moral and ethical systems and histories ensures thatthere can be no universal view of the main issues of international relations.”8°Apparently,argues Smith, the world looks sufficiently different from, “say, Calcutta than it does fromMoscow, Kabal, Tehran or Kansas” so that “people in different countries will have contrastingviews of what the most important issues are, and of how these are to be dealt with.”8’Metanarratives, universal theory, or indeed, international theory, look to be doomed to theproclivities of individuation among countries and peoples. In fact, this is the explicit intentionof the “post-structuralist practices of genealogy, deconstruction and intertextualism,” which seek“to disturb, disrupt and challenge the universalist and rationalist claims and conventions, theOlson, W., & Onuf, N., (1985), “The Growth of a Discipline: Reviewed,” in Smith, S., (ed.), InternationalRelations: British and American Perspectives. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, p.1 1.80 Smith, S., (1985), “Introduction,” in Smith, S., (ed.), op.cit, pix.81 ibidPage 33‘natural truths,’ the ‘logocentrism’ of existing schools of thought in international relations.”82The result, celebrated by some, is a “theoretical anarchy” and relativism which, for those sodisposed to a cartesian anxiety, symbolises the death of objectivity, rationality, and the eclipseof hope in discovering truth.Obviously, International Relations is in a period of metamorphosis; an evolution ofsorts in which disciplinary boundaries are being questioned and re-defined, our object(s) ofstudy re-analyzed and challenged, and our modes of theory construction subjected to criticalreflection. The point at which the study of international politics begins and ends is ever moreblurred; what constitutes the appropriate object(s) of study — the nation-state, the transnationalcorporation, or some other actors or combinations therein — is ever more contentious. How, forexample, do we relate the growth in interdependence, the cobweb-like interlocking of inter-staterelations through global finance capital, the internationalization of production techniques andthe globalization of consumption patterns, to our traditional concerns with relations betweennation-states, to the security problematic and war making? Are these questions any longerworthy of a central analytical focus in the discipline? Indeed, if we accept that the disciplineof international politics is now a combinatorial regime of empiricists, practitioners, andtheorists who, as James Richardson notes, have research interests that range from;.the origins of the modern state system to threats to the survival of any socialand political system, from nuclear strategies to global inequalities, from closeanalysis of decision-making to the most general concerns of the philosophy ofscience.. 8382 Hoffman, M., (1991), op.cit, p.177.83 Richardson, J.L., (1991), op.cit, p.27.Page 34how, then, can the term disczpline be “anything more than honorific?”84 Indeed, for Rengger,this multiplicity and eclecticism in theoretical endeavours leads him to describe internationaltheory as the “Lernean Hydra: each time one conceptual head is lopped off, another two appearin its place.”85 And, as if it were not enough that our discipline lacks a common core anddefined boundaries, that our theory is in chaos with paradigms and research agendasmultiplying seemingly exponentially, we are also goaded into believing that those structuresand processes we have traditionally studied have undergone profound transformation. Toparaphrase Einstein, everything has changed except our thinking. We are now confronted withthe “pervasive presence of transformations in global life” such that “international politics” or“international relations” are “obsolete” terms according to James Rosenau. For Rosenau,ruptures in global processes and structures compel us to look toward the idiom of the post:If the social sciences are now marked by analyses of postcapitalist society,postcivilized era, postcollectivist politics, posteconomic society, posthistoricman, postideological society, postliberal era, postliterature culture, postmarketsociety, post-Marxists, postmaterialist value system, postmaturity economy,postmodernism, postorganization society, post-Christian era, postscarcity society,postsocialist society, posttraditional society, and postwelfare society, as well aspostindustrial society, surely it follows that profound changes in world affairscan be regarded as constituting postinternational politics.86As Marx noted in his famous adage: “All that is solid melts into air.” This, evidently,is also true of those structures, processes and knowledge systems that have served us to84 ibid85 Rengger, N.J., (1988), “Going Critical: A Response to Hofthian,” Millennium, VoL17,No.1, p.81.86 Rosenau, J.N., (1989), “Global Changes and Theoretical Challenges: Toward a Postinternational Politicsfor the 1990s,” in Czempiel, E.O., & Rosenau, J.N., (eds.), Global Changes and Theoretical Challenges:Approaches to World Politics for the 1990s. Lexington, Massachusetts: Lexington, pp.2-3.Page 35date.87 As Rosenau again notes; “much of what passes for theory in international relationstoday was designed for an era now passing into oblivion.”88 “Postinternational politics,” itseems, has made for multiple realities that “coexist, collide, and interpenetrate.”89 The nation-state now exists as one among many transnational actors, “from multinational corporations toprofessional societies to international organizations to terrorists.”90 International relations havebecome a tangled muddle of numerous phenomena; the bi-polar world a multi-polar world;power, a multifarious phenomenon no longer confined to the barrel of a gun; and sovereignty,an increasingly antiquated phenomenon no longer impervious to the whims of global capitaland fmancial markets or the taste cultures of global consumerism that sweep the globe viaelectronic images.In a sense, then, these are the problems of international relations, problems that causeus consternation about where to begin our project, where to end it, how to understand, whattools to employ, what actors to focus upon, how to construct theory, what type of theory(universal, micro-specific, contextual, meso-level, constructivist or positivist), what role andpurpose for theory, how to represent multiple realities and systemic change, whether to simplifyor complicate, to narrow our theoretical referents or widen them, to particularise or generalise.These issues represent merely a few among many that cause us to experience a crisis ofcontemplation, where certainty in our methods of contemplation, of what in international87Marx, K., & Engels, F., (1977), Manifesto ofthe Communist Party. Peking: Foreign Languages Press, p.37.Rosenau, J.N., (1989), op.cit, p.5.89 Harvey, D., (1991), The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change.Oxford: Basil Blackwell, p.41.° Rosenau, J.N., (1989), op.cit, p.5.Page 36politics we should contemplate, in what style it should be contemplated, and for what purposewe contemplate, has evaporated. Despite the accolades of Nicholas Onuf that “{o]ne of thecrowning achievements of the past several centuries is the edifice of theory,” this “edifice” istoday under attack, its utility, role and purpose questioned, and its legitimacy challenged.91ConclusionThis chapter has been an exercise in historiography, not for its own sake but todemonstrate the historical ambiguity of International Relations both as an intellectual exerciseand an academic discipline. Its purpose has been heuristic, intending to illustrate the intellectualchallenge posed in studying international relations. More than this, though, this chapter hasattempted to contextualize the current “crisis” in International Relations within a “tradition” ofscholarship itself suffused with ongoing incertitude as to its intellectual enterprise, purpose andparentage. To that end, I have endeavoured to demonstrate how the genealogical peculiarityof International Relations has precipitated not only a crisis of contemplation about itsepistemological basis but also its “historical point of departure.”92 Indeed, that InternationalRelations has suffered from sporadic bouts of self-doubt and reevaluation and continues to doso, are familial traits of heritage that, for better or worse, we remain genetically disposed to.And it is in this light that I suggest the latest “crisis” posed by the “Third Debate” beapproached, not as a disjunctural event unusual in character, but as a distinctive recurrenceendemic to the very discourse of International Relations. These themes are addressed in thenext chapter.91 Onuf, N. G., (1989), op.cit, p.11.92 Darby, P., & Paolini, A.J., (1994), “Bridging International Relations and Postcolonialism,” Alternatives,Vol.19,No.3, Summer, p.373.IntroductionIn many senses, chapter one was only a prelude to the thesis, functioning not so muchas an argument but a mood piece. It attempted to situate International Relations within adiscourse that, historically, has not existed and only recently has been invented. And in doingso, chapter one attempted to relate the intellectual ambiguity upon which the study ofinternational relations is founded, to the series of on-going intellectual machinations that havecome to form the discipline’s historical discourse. My point was surely obvious, thatInternational Relations is an intellectual orphan, destitute of concrete historicity and intellectuallineage, and like all orphans in despairing search of epistemological parentage. Yet inhighlighting the dearth of historical precedent and the recurrent attempts to secure one, chapterone also identified the historical “essence” of International Relations: the search for anepistemological pedigree in order that we can make sense of the history of events. The historyof international theory thus resides in this repeated search for epistemological and ontologicalcertainty, and the recurrent crises to which we seem prone, in the realization that certaintycontinues to elude us. This perhaps explains the periodic preoccupation with metaphysicalinvestigations, a recurrent compulsion that International Relations will, inevitably, forever becondemned to.It is in this context that chapter two begins an examination of the (re)current fixationon epistemological questions occasioned by the latest of crises, the “Third Debate.” It does sofrom the perspective of a baedeker to the “Third Debate,” specifically of what it means to thediscipline and theory-construction. I would not be alone, for example, in suggesting that thePage 38“Third Debate” remains an anathema to most who confront it.1 Yet its effects are everywhereapparent, whether in the growing number of those preoccupied by its discourse, its increasinginfluence upon theoretical research, or in the rising popularity post-modern theory now enjoysin the academy. Consequently, chapter two introduces the “Third Debate,” not in terms of anexposition of its specific theoretical motifs, but of the effects of these motifs on the disciplineand theoretical endeavour. In this respect, my analysis is somewhat remonstrative, not towardsthe “Third Debate” but toward the vehicle the “Third Debate” has become in advancing certainpolitical programmes that threaten the integrity and viability of International Relations. In fact,my analysis might be judged theoretically discursive, since it is both impressed by many of thetheoretical innovations championed by the “Third Debate,” but suspicious of their politicalintent and the image of theory they seek to propagate. Consequently, I problematize the veryoccasion of the “Third Debate,” questioning the utility of this exercise to the well being of thediscipline while attempting to contextualize it and its implications. The purpose of this chapter,as with the thesis more generally, should thus be understood as a contribution to reclaimingthe discipline; reclaiming International Relations from its current ambiguity as “contestedconcept” and site of “crisis,” so that the project of studying international relations can onceagain be resumed.Problematizing International Relations: The Role and Challenge of the “Third Debate”The distinguished scholar of International Relations, Stanley Hoffmann, concluded arecent autobiographical article with the following advice for graduate students:See, for example, the comments in Kratochwil, F., (1986), “Errors Have Their Advantages,” InternationalOrganization, Vol.38,No.2, Spring, pp.305-320. See also, Gilpin, R.G., (1986), “The Richness of the Traditionof Political Realism,” in Keohane, R.O., (ed.), Neorealism and its Critics. New York: Columbia University Press,pp.301-321.Page 39Avoid fads, resist the pressure to begin your career by showing your dexteritywith grand theory, remember that theory is necessary only as a help tounderstanding, as a path to interesting questions, but that it can all to oftenbecome a hinderance or screen. Remember that much empirical research, of thesort that leads to further investigations and therefore, ultimately, to middle-rangetheory, does not need to start by leaning on the brittle crutches of grandiosemodels.2Doubtlessly this is sound advice, and this thesis is all the more foolish for not havingtaken it! Yet any student who embarks upon the study of international relations today cannothelp but stumble into the quagmire of theory. The “Third Debate” is upon us whetherwelcomed or not, and the issues that resonate throughout the discipline are distinctly metatheoretical in nature. No longer can students of international politics look for neatlycompartmentalized theoretical divides that dichotomise between two or three contending“schools of thought.” The waters have become considerably more muddied, clouded withdebates over universalism, foundationalism, post-modernism, relativism, interpretivism, andissues of representation.3 And all this, arguably, before we even get to study those thingscalled “international relations.”While Hoffmann might well be correct, these days one can neither begin nor concludeempirical research without first discussing epistemological orientations and ontological2 Hoffmann, S., (1989), “A Retrospective,” in Kruzel, J., & Rosenau, J.N., (eds.), Journeys Through WorldPolitics: Autobiographical Reflections of Thirty-four Academic Travelers. Lexington Books, p.276.At the very outset of this chapter I want to dispel any notion of definitional precision in the lexicon of the“Third Debate.” Concepts such as post-modernism, post-structuralism, post-positivism, interpretivism, andreflectivism, for example, are used interchangeably and obviously have much overlap. Accordingly, I have chosento follow this practice, employing these concepts in interchangeable fashion and somewhat loosely, leaving, likeRoger Spegele suggests, the context in which they are used to “firm up” their meaning. Having said this, though,I tend to favour the term post-modernism, simply because this is suitably nebulous enough and woefully impreciseas to apply to all those who count themselves as intellectual “dissidents.” See spegele, R.D., (1992), “RichardAshley’s Discourse for International Relations,” Millennium: Journal of International Relations, Vol.21,No.2,Summer, p.147.Page 40assumptions. Like a vortex, meta-theory has engulfed us all, and the question of “theory” whichwas once used as a guide to research is now the object of research. Indeed, for a disciplinewhose purview is ostensibly outward looking and international in scope, and at a time of everencroaching globalization and transnationalism, International Relations has become increasinglyprovincial and inward looking. Rather than grapple with the numerous issues that confrontpeoples around the world, International Relations since the early 1980s has tended more andmore toward obsessive self examination.4These days the politics of famine, environmentaldegradation, underdevelopment, or “ethnic cleansing,” let alone the cartographic machinationsin Eastern Europe and the reconfiguration of the geo-global political-economy, seem scarcelyto concern theorists of international politics, who in a self-styled manner have defined the“urgent” task of our time to be one of metaphysical reflection and epistemologicalinvestigation. Arguably, theory is no longer concerned with the study of international relationsso much as the “manner in which international relations as a discipline, and internationalrelations as a subject matter, have been constructed.”5To be concerned with the latter is to be“on the cutting edge,” where “novelty” has itself become “an appropriate form of scholarship.”6Such bouts of theoretical reappraisal are, of course, not new in International Relations.Theorists of international politics are, by nature, hermeneutical creatures, sporadicallybeleaguered by periods of self doubt, theoretical incertitude, reinvention, and rearticulation.“ Cox, W.S., & Sjolander, C.T., (1994), “Critical Reflection on International Relations,” in Cox, W.S., &Sjolander, C.T., (eds), Beyond Positivism: Critical Reflections on International Relations, Colorado: LynneRienner, p.3.Darby, P., & Paolini, A.J., (1994), “Bridging International Relations and Postcolonialism,” Alternatives,Vol.19,No.3, Summer, p.374.6 Hoisti, K.J., (1989), “Rooms and Views: Perspectives on the Study of International Relations,” in Kruzel,J., & Rosenau, J.N., (eds.), op.cit, p.34.Page 41These episodes we usually celebrate as “great debates:” an optimistic terminology suggestingintellectual renewal, or at the very least, atonement. Indeed, International Relations has evolveda peculiar approach to theory; a general disinterest that every now and then erupts intoincessant preoccupation. But as John Weltman notes, even these episodes have not been all thatinstructive:Methodological controversy and self-awareness have been endemic ininternational relations. Yet it is curious how little genuine debate this hasengendered, if we understand by “debate” an arena in which arguments arejoined rather than one in which assertions are juxtaposed. One has instead anumber of separate guilds, each of which proceeds on the basis of its ownindigenous premises, conscious of the work of other groups only as caricature.7Amid this diversity in the scholarly activities of International Relations, RobertRothstein is not alone in fearing the loss of “a shared goal” that might otherwise provide “adegree of unity for all these very different theoretical endeavours.”8Such sentiments, however, are historical echoes of the past, nostalgia for a disciplinethat once was. Instead, we are left today amid the rejectionists and deconstructionists, the latestbearers of “crisis,” who not only question theoretical purpose and our disciplinary identity, butseek to make us non-existent as “authors” and “readers” by reducing us to so many moretextual ramblings. The shibboleths of “discipline,” knowledge, theory and progress, are nolonger ours to enjoy but “modernist” fictions endemic to the “Eurocentrism of WesternWeitman, J.J., (1982), “On the Interpretation of International Thought,” The Review of Politics,Vol.44,No.1, January, p.27.8 Rothstein, T.L., (ed.), The Evolution of Theory In International Relations: Essays in Honor of WilliamTR. Fox, Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, p.xvii. See also, Hoisti, K.J., (1971),“Retreat from Utopia: International Relations Theory, 1945-1970,” Canadian Journal of Political Science,Vol.4,No.2, June, p.172.Page 42scholarship.”9 The “Third Debate” has arrived, and so it seems have new ways of thinking,doing, and being.We should not be surprised, then, that theprevailing view concerning the development of theory in international relationsis that the field is beset by a bewildering variety of theoretical approaches,models, and concepts—that it is “in as much of a state of change, chaos, andconfusion as the contemporary world scene which it seeks to comprehend—-andthat theorizing on international relations is of only “fairly recent origin.”0What should surprise us, though, is that this assessment was written by Arend Lijphartsome twenty years ago, indicating how incessant this sense of “crisis” has been to the normaldiscourse of International Relations. Fourteen years earlier, for example, Stanley Hoffmannmade a similar lament, noting that, “[a] s a discipline, international relations are not in very fineshape” and disposed to splintering “parochial” approaches.1’Calamity has become a way of life for theorists of international politics who seemaccustomed to episodes of depression whenever they turn to theoretical activity. In this context,it might be more appropriate to understand the “great debates” not as infrequent storms thatoccasionally blow away debris, remove dead foliage from the trees, old moss and dust fromthe branches so that we can see the forest again, but as a series of on-going climatic changesthat, bit by bit, are killing the forest altogether. Arguably, this is the intention of the moreDarby, P., & Paolini, A.J., (1994), op.cit, p.375.10 Lijphart, A., (1974), “The Structure of Theoretical Revolution in International Relations,” InternationalStudies Quarterly, Vol.18,No.1, March, p.41.Hoffinann, S., (1960), “International Relations as a Discipline,” in Hoffinann, S., (ed.), ContemporaryTheory in International Relations, Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall, p.6. See also, Halliday, F., (1985), “A‘Crisis’ of International Relations,” International Relations, Vol.8,No.4, November, p.405.Page 43extreme proponents of the “Third Great Debate;” a levelling of the forest altogether toprecipitate new growth and propagate nçw species.This change in theoretical orientation has not gone uncontested. An endless Socraticconversation over the sociology of knowledge, many argue, will lead to “bottomless pits ofepistemology and metaphysics.”12 Still others welcome this trend, arguing that epistemology“is one of the key remaining issues international relations has failed to examine.”13 ThomasBiersteker, for example, notes that “[tlhe vast majority of scholarship in internationalrelations.. .proceeds without conscious reflection on its philosophical bases or premises.”4Ostensibly, the “Third Debate” attempts to correct this by addressing the meta-theoreticalconcerns of epistemology and ontology rather than “specific research programs andprojects.”15 More specifically, the “Third Debate” is about theory: what it is, why we do it,what it is used for, who uses it, and what type of theory we should endeavour to construct. Nolonger is theory a benign investigative tool. According to the post-structuralists, theory is“power.” The facts considered, the choices presented, the remedies suggested, and the viewslegitimated, are all considered outcomes of epistemology. Post-structuralists are thereforesuspicious of indeed hostile to, those epistemologies that, in their view, are used in the serviceof dominant interests, that silence certain “voices” while presuming to speak for “others.”Where Hans-Georg Gadamer, for example, could argue that theory was “rendered anonymous”12 Holsti, K., (1993), “International Relations at the end of the Millennium,” Review ofInternational Studies,Vol.19,No.4, October, p.407.13 Cox, W.S., & Sjolander, C.T., (1994), op.cit, p.4.‘ Biersteker, T.J., (1989), “Critical Reflections on Post-Positivism in International Relations,” InternationalStudies Quarterly, Vol.33 ,No.3, September, p.265.‘ Cox, W.S., & Sjolander, C.T., (1994), op.cit.Page 44by virtue of the objective detachment of the enterprise itself, critical theorists insist that“[t]heory is always for someone and for some purpO5e.t6 Consequently, post-modernistscontend that there can be no commensurability in theory, knowledge, or purpose. Thesedissipate amid a montage of differing interests, opposing views, contrasting perceptions, anddissimilar cultural enclaves, and makes theory a latent tool of those who wield it.’7 The actsof theory construction, diagnosis and prescription, thus become impossible, since poststructuralists equate these with the imposition of values, the silencing of minorities, and themarginalization of dissenting voices. Those engaged in certain types of theory, whethermodernist, empirical, realist, or problem-solving-technical theory, in short those engaged in thedisciplinary pursuits of studying international relations, are denied the efficacy of theirenterprise, its objectivity, purpose, progress, and legitimacy. Rather, as post-structuralists seeit, we stand today “over the ruins of the positivist project” and at the beginning of a new“season of hope.”8 Again, it seems, we are witness to “yet another preface to a majorproject.. .yet another call to a new beginning, another meta-theoretical debate for the consumersof international relations theory.”916 Brown, R., (1993), “Introduction: Towards a New Synthesis of International Relations,” Bowker, M., &Brown, R., (eds.), From Cold War to Collapse: Theory and World Politics in the 1980s, Cambridge, England:Cambridge University Press, p.11. Cox, R.W., (1986), “Social Forces, States and World Order: BeyondInternational Relations Theory,” in Keohane, RO., (ed.), Neorealism and its Critics, New York: ColumbiaUniversity Press, p.207.17 The question of cultural difference as it relates to international relations theory is eloquently addressed inRengger, N.J., (1989), “Incommensurability, International Theory and the Fragmentation of Western PoliticalCulture,” in Gribbins, J.R., (ed.), Contemporary Political Culture: Politics in a Postmodern Age, Sage ModernPolitics Series, Volume 23, London: Sage Publications, pp.137-250.Lapid, Y., (1989), “The Third Debate: On the Prospects of International Theory in a Post-Positivist Era,”International Studies Quarterly, Vol.33 ,No.3, September, pp.236-7.‘ Biersteker, T.J., (1989), op.cit, p.266.Page 45Appearances, however, are deceptive, and pleas for “a new beginning,” for theoretical(re)evaluation and metaphysical reflection, are made suspicious by the political advocacy thatinvariably accompanies them. Despite such calls, the crowning issues of the “Third Debate,”epistemology and ontology, have not been used to evaluate and strengthen the quality oftheoretical endeavour in the discipline so much as they have been expropriated by certainproponents of post-modernism as weapons of de(con)struction. Indeed, such idioms havebecome token and wholly diversionary facades to hide a thinly disguised ideological locutionopposed to the current constellation of theory, meaning, and interpretation in the discipline. Inthe hands of deconstructionists, for example, epistemology has become a medium by which tochallenge the notion of “discipline,” and ontology a means of rendering problematic its objectsof study. Where the “Third Debate” might have proven valuable for suggesting new ways andmethods to better our scholarship, under the auspices of certain varieties of post-modern theoryit has become a means of dismantling the disciplinary basis of that scholarship while callingfor, and contributing to, a new political agenda. All too predictably, “deconstruction” hasbecome a political instrument, used to efface International Relations of purpose, theory,method, and legitimacy, while suggesting the efficacy of a new post-modern politics. Contraryto its claims, then, this is not a “Great Debate” centred around meta-theoretical reflection, buta campaign to undo such reflection by circumscribing scholarship for partisan ends. The aim,and perhaps even the effect, has been to make problematic International Relations by renderingthe discipline, and its theory, a site of radical “undecidability,” disenabling decision bysmuggling in specious “theory” that portends to the conclusion of relativism, anti-Page 46foundationalism and perspectivism, as “a necessary condition for identifying and combating thetotalitarian risk.”20The consequences of the “Third Debate” are therefore twin edged; on the one hand itrepresents a genuine opportunity for theoretical and disciplinary self-analysis, while in actualityit threatens the theoretical and disciplinary basis of that scholarship because of the politicalinstrument it has become to those who seek an end to International Relations. Navigatingbetween the quagmire of genuine theoretical revisionism and the series of political campaignsthat masquerade as theoretical innovations, has thus never been more difficult nor moreimportant.Reclaiming International Relations: Purpose, Theory, and MethodFor the outside observer it must seem extraordinary, if not bizarre, that thosepreoccupied with “international relations” still consume themselves not with their study, butwith their definitional parameters and with the nature, role, and purpose of theory. What it iswe do, or should be doing, and how we should do it, are perennial ruminations that seem tohaunt us with each additional “Great Debate.” Yet again it seems necessary to (re)considertheory and to rearticulate what it is we mean by the study of international relations. Butdefinitions, as should be obvious by their continual dispute and revision, are problematicdevices at best, perspicacious only to the extent that their capricious imposition atop arbitraryphenomena makes apparent an otherwise obtuse area of investigation. As Hoffmann notes,“[tjhe function of a definition is to indicate proper areas of inquiry, not to reveal the essence20 Jacques Derrida as quoted in Campbell, D., (1994), “The Deterritorialization of Responsibility: Levinas,Derrida, and Ethics After the End of Philosophy,” Alternatives, Vol.19.No.4, Fall, p.469.Page 47of the subject.”21 Indeed, the imposition of a rigid definition is counterproductive,presupposing not only the end of history but the end of theory. Definitions can only evercapture perceptions in time of processes that are constantly changing. “How,” asks Hoffmann,“could one agree once and for all upon the definition of a field whose scope is in constant flux,indeed a field whose fluctuation is one of its principal characteristics?” 22Clearly, however, some “operational definition” is necessary if we are to reclaim thedisciplinary integrity of International Relations from the deconstructionists of the “ThirdDebate,” and delineate a disciplinary basis from which scholarship and theoretical endeavourmay proceed. Accordingly, I offer the following, not to distil an “essence” to the subject ofInternational Relations, but to indicate, like Hoffmann, “what I think we should investigate.”23Unlike the more extreme proponents of the “Third Debate,” I remain convinced of theneed for constructive theory, that theory has purpose, and that this resides in the notion of“discipline.” International theory and the discipline of International Relations are concernedwith the study and understanding of the interactions between nation-states and variousmultinational and transnational actors; the reasons, rationales and motivations that propel them,and the consequences, effects, and fall-out of these interactions. For Hoffmann, this translatesinto a disciplinary concern focused upon those “factors and.. .activities which affect the externalpolitics and the power of the basic units into which the world is divided.”24 But to what extent21 Hoffinann, S., (1960), op.cit, pp.5-6.22 ibid, p.6.23 ibid.24 ibid.Page 48has Hoffmann defined tautologically the study of international relations to be concerned withthe study of international relations? Indeed, if this is an attempt to render more apparentprecisely what it is we should be studying, then it succeeds only in demonstrating how broadand ill-defined are the disciplines concerns. We are, after all, concerned not with a single “unit”but numerous units, and not with a finite but an inordinate number and combination of“factors” and “activities” which can affect directly or indirectly, and in different degrees andvarious circumstances, the “activities” and “power” of those historically contingent “basic units”whose form, function, and dimension are constantly changing. If considered carefully,Hoffmann’s definition is really no definition at all, but a call to perform the inauspicious taskof “gathering facts” by cataloguing those “factors” and “activities” causally related to inter-unitpolitics.25 There is, in effect, no problematique on which to base this fact gathering enterprise,only a directive that we should do so. But “gathering facts is not enough” if, in the absence ofrobust and meaningful theoretical parameters, we have failed first to formulate those questionswe most want answered. 26 Indeed, facts are mostly irrelevant to the study of internationalrelations if encountered in the absence of an overarching problematique that otherwise inscribespurpose and meaning to the act of studying international relations. Empirical and middle rangetheory, for example, are useful only to the extent that questions have been asked to which theseepistemologies have then been directed. Thus, while I tend to agree with Hoffmann, there is25 ibid pp.8-9.26 The words of Joseph Frankel are most instructive here. “The so-called ‘facts,” he notes, “are mere artificialconstructions abstracted from complex and interwoven reality by means of arbitrary definitions and classifications.They are selected from the profusion of real life on the basis of implicit or explicit theories about what isimportant.” What is important, therefore, are not facts, but “the ideas which determine our interpretation” of them.See Frankel, J., (1969), International Politics: Conflict and Harmony. London: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press,p.17.Page 49really nothing to agree about since he fails to articulate a precise problematique on which tosituate the discipline and scholarly activity. Without purpose, International Relations would bea vacuous activity, facile and devoid of meaning. Scholarship would be conducted, but withno aim in mind. Facts would be gathered, but for no purpose other than satisfying bibliophilesfond of reading facts. And of themselves, these “facts” would reveal no knowledge orunderstanding, but testify only to their own appearance. As Kenneth Waltz notes;If we gather more and more data and establish more and more associations.. .wewill not finally find that we know something. We will simply end up havingmore and more data and larger sets of correlations.27The point, Waltz urges, is to “get beyond ‘the facts of observation,” and look deepertoward the aetiological basis of facts if we wish an understanding and explanation of them.28Implicitly, Waltz is suggesting that facts are meaningless other than in the context ofepistemological constructs, and that in order to approach an understanding of them, and ascribemeaning to them, it is not facts that need to be understood but the epistemological andontological orientations that underlie their interpretation. Put another way, we need recognisethat while we gather facts, we do so only in the context of reflective purpose. “Purpose,” notesCarr, “whether we are conscious of it or not, is a condition of thought.”29We cannot study even stars or rocks or atoms.. .without being somehowdetermined, in our modes of systematisation, in the prominence given to one or27 Waltz, K.N., (1986), “Laws and Theories,” in Keohane, R.O., (ed.), Neorealism and its Critics. New York:Columbia University Press, pp.30. Similarly, Joseph Frankel observes: “[The] great advance in our knowledgeof detail does not, however, add up to an understanding of the whole field; on the contrary, the detailedinformation available is sometimes excessive since it chocks the channels of communication and cannot be easilydigested by individual scholars or even teams of them.” See Frankel, J., (1969), op.cit, p.18.28 ibid p.33.29 Carr, E.H., (1964), op.cit, p.3.Page 50another part of our subject, in the form of the questions we ask and attempt toanswer, by direct and human interests.30This “interest” not only gives facts meaning, but, more obviously, renders the study ofinternational relations an inherently normative enterprise. International Relations came intobeing “in response to a popular demand;” a “passionate desire to prevent war.”3’ And thisdesire remains central to the study of international relations, albeit that it now exists as oneamong many “interests” that the discipline attends to. Definitions thus become sensible onlyto the extent that they help define, or clarify, the purpose to which we wish press our energies.Indeed, to the extent that we are able to agree upon a common set of questions and concerns(a problematique), this is all that will ever define us amid an otherwise undefinable discipline.Stipulating, through definition, the direction of theoretical investigation in InternationalRelations is therefore impossible. Serendipity, premised upon purposive reflection, will leadgenuine intellectual exploration in no firm direction.To talk about an “operational definition,” then, is really to talk about “purpose,” a setof questions which informs a problematique for which we wish answers. And this is really thehub of our enterprise; one that might tentatively be defined this way: how some 6 billionpeople through the formation of culture and community, the abstraction of geographicalterritory and the imposition of social, political, and economic space, interact, organize, regulate,govern, trade, travel, communicate, peacefully coexist, and on occasion, collide and make war.Within this problematique there are, to be sure, contending approaches, differentepistemologies and ontological disputes over what the most important actors, issues, and30 As quoted in ibid.‘ ibid, pp.2 & 8.Page 51structures are, and the most appropriate form(s) of theory to best explain and understand thesephenomena. But amid these disputes we find the “essence” of our enterprise, if indeed thenotion of “essence” is warranted. After all, as Philip Windsor notes, while InternationalRelations “literally considers the fate of the world” and is therefore “comprehensive by virtueof its can not be unitary because of its preoccupation.” 32 The bounds of ourdisciplinary concerns are necessarily diverse and consequently so are the theoretical approachesused to study them. Theory, therefore, will always be a messy, contentious, discursive, andprovocative affair, eliciting the bridled passions of the profession as we collectively strive tounderstand. Moreover, theory in International Relations will always be an endless activity ifonly because what we study is fluid, in the sense of being socially constructed and thereforeprone to the vestiges of change. Some of our most cherished disciplinary tools of analysis likeanarchy, nation-state, sovereignty, power, and the demarcation between domestic andinternational society, for example, are problematic concepts rather than naturally inscribedattributes of the global arena. And while such concepts are staples for theorists of InternationalRelations, at best they represent nebulous inscriptions imposed atop a sea surface of constantmovement and redefinition. While we might recognize, for example, that “statesmen act andthink in terms of interest defined as power” as Hans Morgenthau did, we must also recognizeas Hoffmann points out that, while this is true, it is true “only at a level of generality that isfatuous.”33 Consequently, while international theory can often be conclusive, in the sense of32 Philip Windsor as quoted in Rengger, N., & Hoffman, M., (1992), “Modernity, Postmodernism andInternational Relations,” in Doherty, J., Graham, E., & Malek, M. (eds.), Postmodernism and the Social Sciences,Hong Kong: Macmillan, p.127.‘ Hans Morgenthau as quoted in Hoffinann, S., (1987), Janus and Minerva: Essays in the Theory andPractice of International Politics, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, p.71.Page 52identifying important actors, recurrent patterns and themes and defining normative objectives,it can never be concluded. We are, in this sense, condemned to theory, not because it is theobject(ive) of our study, but because it is a necessary consequence of our disciplinary pursuits.As for the “purpose” of this enterprise, I hold this to be self-evident, albeit in need ofrearticulation in this time of the “Third Debate.” Theory development and scholarshipultimately have purpose: scholarly gratification, understanding, diagnosis and prescription. Wedo theory not only to know and understand and advance knowledge, but also so that we mightdiagnose and solve problems. As Hoffmann noted, “[t]heory is no more than ‘a set of toolswhose usefulness is tested in their ability to solve concrete problems.”34Yet as Edward Carrreminds us, theory is both normative and empirical, situated amid the wish to understand andthe wish to change what is understood. “Political thought,” he wrote, “is itself a form ofpolitical action. Political science is the science not only of what is, but of what ought to be.”35And herein lies the complexity of theoretical endeavour in International Relations, thejuxtaposed ambition of wanting to understand, to explain, to elucidate reality, while concernedwith the prospects of changing that reality for a better one. Reality, in other words, has a wayHofflnann, S., (1960), op.cit, p.8.‘ Carr, E.H., (1964), The Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1919-1939. New York: Harper & Row, p.5. Hoffmann alsorecognizes these mutually exclusive strands within theory, labelling them; 1.) “normative” theory; 2.) “empirical”theory; and, 3.) ‘policy” science theory. Moreover, he also notes, like Carr, that “it is impossible to keepcompletely apart the three kinds of theory which we distinguished analytically from the viewpoint of purpose.”See Hoffmann, S., (1960), op.cit, p.9. For a related discussion of this issue, see Crawford, R.M., (1994),“Irreconcilable Differences? Idealism, Realism and the Problem of Discipline in International Relations”,Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, The University of British Columbia, and Brown, C., (1992), InternationalRelations Theory: New Normative Approaches. Hertfordshire, England: Harvester Wheatsheaf, pp.1-2.Page 53of intruding into our disciplinary concerns and of making apparent the purpose of InternationalRelations as an academic pursuit.36The development of theory in International Relations has thus often been prescriptiveand purposive, aspiring to contribute to the avoidance of war and peaceful relations, theaversion of international crises, the mediation of disputes, the maintenance of security, thedevelopment of international resolution procedures and negotiating forums, and theestablishment of institutional and legal apparatus for the peaceful administration of internationalpolitics. Frederick Dunn probably expressed it best when he wrote that, because “the questionswith which JR deals arise primarily out of social conflicts and adjustments, its approach is inlarge part instrumental and normative in character.”37 International Relations, Dunn noted;is concerned primarily with knowledge that is relevant to the control andimprovement of a particular set of social conditions. Its goal is not merelyknowledge for its own sake but knowledge for the purpose of molding practicalevents in desired directions.38We have, perhaps, lost sight of this, or rather is the case that these concerns and thisimage of theory, are now dismissed as reflecting a particular moment in the history and theoryof the discipline that no longer represents the “true” scope, nature, and realities, of internationalrelations. Post-modernists, for example, not only dismiss this conception of theory, but thinkthe image of global politics it validates cursory to modernist theories obsessed with control andtechnical-problem-solving. Practitioners in the discipline are now admonished for ignoring “the36 See, for example, the discussion in Shearman, P., (1993), “New Political Thinking Reassessed,” Review ofInternational Studies, Vol.1 9,No.2, April, p.145.Dunn, F.S., (1960), “The Scope of International Relations,” in Hoffmann, S., (ed.), op.cit, p.14.ibid.Page 54degree to which.. .theories themselves do not simply provide the means for describing,discussing and directing phenomena, but help to constitute such phenomena.”39 In otherwords, the image of global politics represented in realism, for example, is itself accused ofbeing responsible for realist power politics. As Richard Ashley argues, “the modern sovereignstate is never more than an effect of realist practices...”4°Realists make realism, they don’tbenignly observe it but partake in its rituals and create it:The state of the discipline is a fiction imposed in time, a misrepresentation ofwhat is really present, a misrepresentation that owes its power to the fact thatit is misrecognised and made to count as a horizon of truth and meaning initself.4’International Relations theory, specifically modernist-realist-positivist theory, is thusattacked on two fronts: the first for being out of touch and out of date with the “true” realitiesof contemporary international relations; and the second for being responsible for those realitiesit purports to be objectively studying. Well might one ask, however, how realism can be outof date while its practices are alleged responsible for the contemporary configuration of globalpolitics.Disparaging the Discipline: The “Third Debate”The “Third Debate” thus embroils us in a strange paradox, a want to litigate realism forthe structure, practices, and horrors that emerge from a world of sovereign states who practiceRengger, N., & Hofthian, M., (1992), op.cit, p.131.40 Ashley, R.K., (1991), “The State of the Discipline: Realism Under Challenge,” in Higgott, R., &Richardson, J.L., (eds.), International Relations: Global andAustralian Perspectives on an Evolving Discipline.Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, the Australian NationalUniversity, p.67.ibid, p.43.Page 55realism, but also a desire to repudiate realism on the grounds of its congenital inability totheorise the state, account for the practices of global politics, or the new realities oftransnationalism and globalization. More obtusely, post-modernists want to conduct thislitigation at the level of philosophy and meta-theory, indicting not realism per se, but itsintellectual mentors, positivism and modernity. This is what makes the “Third Great Debate”so distinctive, as well as misnamed. Where the previous “Great Debates” were contributionsto the discipline, to theory, to the advancement of knowledge and understanding through theirefforts to delineate “better avenues to scholarship,” the “Third Debate” shuns this andchallenges the very legitimacy of the discipline, implicating it in the modernist project and thecrimes of cultural exclusivity, oppression, and domination.Thus, rather than a contribution to the discipline, the “Third Debate” has become anorchestrated attempt to destroy it. However, it attempts to do so in subtle, clandestine ways bychipping away at the epistemological and ontological foundations of the discipline. Rather thandirectly rebuking or falsifying the purpose, intent, and project of International Relations on itsown terms, post-modernists assault International Relations by making its practitionerstheoretically impotent. By ridiculing objectivity, for instance, by suggesting the culpability ofpositivism and realism to oppression and marginalization, by implicating the role and purposeof theory in the expansion of dominant and culturally specific interests, and in decrying theattributes ofprogress, purpose, and knowledge, post-modernists have attempted to “deconstruct”International Relations by depriving practitioners of the necessary certitude to conduct theirenterprise. Many orthodox theorists are now reticent to make assertions or engage in theoryconstruction on the mistaken belief that there no longer exists firm ground on which to basePage 56values, projects, methods, and thus construct theory and realize conclusions. Certainty inmethod, let alone purpose, has been systematically eroded by the soothsayers of the newrelativism. Instead, post-modernists would have us rejoice at the prospects of a multifariousintellectual pluralism, or what some might characterise as “an intellectual life withoutstandards.”42One of the major consequences of the “Third Debate” has thus been the discipline’shijacking. Core concepts and issues, along with modernist knowledge systems that, hitherto,informed the epistemological orientations of the discipline, have been unduly dismissed asillegitimate forms of intellectual enquiry, while relativism has become the new methodologicalyardstick by which to promote interpretivism and perspectivism in International Relations.Consequently, practitioners in the field have been eviscerated of judicious criteria thatotherwise allow evaluations to be made about the utility of certain theories and researchagendas; evaluations that are necessary to the operation of International Relations as anacademic— disciplinary—-enterprise. Indeed, it has become an increasingly arduous task, andfor post-modernists a wholly illegitimate one, to establish evaluative criteria that allowjudgements to be rendered about what is “good” and “bad” theory, about what constitutes the“core” issues of the discipline or appropriate research areas, and thus to proceed with theconstruction of superior, more insightful theories that better explain and help ameliorate theproblems inherent in international relations. The discipline, in other words, for the first timein its history is faced with the prospects of intellectual stagnation and indecision rather thantheoretical progress. As Cox and Sjolander are forced to admit, while the “Third Debate” has42 Hoisti, K.J., (1989), “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Which Are the Fairest Theories of All?,” InternationalStudies Quarterly, Vol.33,No.3, p.261.Page 57“revealed the existence and importance of political projects and related metatheoreticalpresumptions, unlike its predecessors” it has proven incapable of offering “a clear path tochoice.”43 How, for example, amid the “methodological pluralism” of post-positivistscholarship, do we differentiate, evaluate, and organize the babel of competing voices, theories,research agendas, concepts and paradigms, that comprise the study of international politics? Areall perspectives to be thought of as equivalent in utility, explanation, diagnosis andprescription? As Thomas Biersteker asks;Once liberal toleration yields to the production of alternative interpretations andunderstandings, how are we to choose from the abundance of alternativeexplanations? How are we to judge whether interpretation A is to be preferredto interpretation B in a post-positivist era? How are we to ensure that post-positivist pluralism, in the absence of any alternative criteria, will avoidlegitimizing ignorance, intolerance, or worse?44It is not enough that post-modernists simply dismiss these concerns as trite, as modernisttheory disposed to a Cartesian anxiety. International Relations cannot afford the luxury ofimprecision in theory and judgement. To suppose that the study of war or the maintenance ofpeace can be left to the imprecision of perspectivism and relativism, is not only reckless to theintegrity of the discipline but, more importantly, to those people who must ultimately pay theprice for ill conceived theory, poor diagnoses and inappropriate prescription. Yet this is exactlywhat is being asked by post-modernists. David Campbell, for example, argues that, “[w]ithregard to the Balkans (and other such conflicts),” deconstruction “is a necessary condition forthinking about a solution.” Indeed, he offers us the outrageous assertion that, “withoutdeconstruction there might be no questions of ethics, politics or responsibility... [Wjithout“ Cox, W.S., & Sjolander, C.T., (1994), op.cit, p.4.Biersteker, T.J., (1989), op.cil, pp.265-266.Page 58deconstruction there would not be politics.”45 But what does this mean and how preciselydoes “deconstruction” promise to solve the atrocities of “ethnic cleansing” in the Balkans? Tothose involved in politics that comes from the barrel of a gun, are we really to suppose that“deconstruction” speaks to them? While academics are apt to get excited over new theoreticaldevelopments, it is plainly supercilious, if not pretentious, to assume that those in the field,those engaged in killing, and those attempting to stop from being killed, will be remotelyinterested in the advice of far away academics on the merits of “deconstruction;” a word whosemeaning must seem as meaningless as that of peace.Thus, one of the more impoverishing consequences of the “Third Debate” concerns theseeming irrelevance of much theoretical research and the arcane discourse that accompaniesit. We have, I want to suggest, wandered so far afield that we threaten to become completelyredundant, or at best indifferent, to the actual realities of international relations and the peoplewhose lives, concerns, and struggles are the real stuff of international politics. Increasingly,International Relations speaks only to itself ostracising those not versed in its specialistnomenclature. This is especially true of the overly recondite theoretical offerings to stem frompost-modernist discourse, that speak less to the policy maker, student, or common observer,than to other post-modernists. As Holsti notes, International Relations is in danger of becominginaccessible to “all but the few who inhabit the rarefied sanctuaries of the universities.”46Buteven here, the assumption of a common theoretical language, shared and understood bymembers of the academy, is far from accurate. Mastery of the post-modernist lexicon requires‘ Campbell, D., (1994), op.cit, p.470.46 Holsti, K.J., (1993), op.cit, p.408.Page 59considerable specialty, and, for the most part, remains enigmatic and little understood. Indeedthe unique and wholly invented vernacular of the “Third Debate,” while expanding thevocabulary of the discipline, has also disenfranchised and estranged most theorists fromengaging in productive dialogue and responding to the increasing number of crimes allegedagainst them. Amid imperceptible nomenclature, specialized discourse, and philosophicalruminations, mainstream theorists too have found themselves ill equipped to grapple with thecryptic complexities of post-structuralist theory.This partly explains the remarkable rise of post-modernist perspectives and theirencroaching presence in International Relations. Unlike previous theoretical innovations, post-modernism has enjoyed virtual immunity from intellectual investigation precisely because ofits abstruse inaccessibility. The “Third Debate” has thus evolved in relative isolation, as adebate between post-modernists who, when they have spoken to the discipline, have done somore in terms of a disparaging condemnation amid announcements of the arrival of post-modernist perspectives.Likewise, post-modernists are fond of the charge that “dissident” scholarship is “moreoften attacked than read.”47 Richard Ashley and Robert Walker, for instance, charge thatserious commentary on dissident scholarship is marginalized, and:• .typically encountered in a footnote, a review essay, a contribution to theoccasional symposium on the discipline’s future, a reading seminar, or the banterand sideplay of professional conferences. Rarely is it encountered as the mainGregory, D.U., (1989), “Foreword,” in Der Derian, J., & Shapiro, M.J., (eds.), International/IntertextualRelations: Posimodern Readings of World Politics. New York: Lexington Books, pp.xiii.Page 60theme of a refereed journal article or a formal research presentation at aprofessional meeting. In brief such commentary is offered as parenthesis. 48However, the “marginalization” post-modernists allege is largely self-inflicted, reflectingnot only the extremity of “dissident scholarship” but its intrinsic ambiguity. And as for thepaucity of commentary on post-modernist scholarship, Ashley and Walker forget the relativebrevity of such scholarship upon which to comment. Apart from perennial announcements ofthe “arrival” of post-modernist perspectives and the “Third Debate,” the literature itself displaysremarkable paucity as to its core concepts, issues, and theoretical methodology. For want ofmore tangible offerings, most orthodox theorists have found little meat in which to sink theirteeth. Nowhere in the literature, for example, will one fmd attempts to operationalize“dissident” approaches and yield research findings. How, for example, do we go aboutconstructing a post-modern theory of international relations, presupposing, of course, that thequestion itself is not oxymoronic? How do we do post-modernist international theory, or is ita question of un-doing theory? And what referents are we to use in the construction of post-modern international theory? Do we forget the “state” altogether as yet another socialconstruction whose reality is manifest only because we think it? What precisely should wefocus on, analyze, and ply our trade to?If these questions make problematic the prospects of post-modern international theory,then well they should. After all, there exists “no overwhelming consensus that the postmodernage has arrived,” indicating that the so-called “postmodern condition” might be more imagined48 Ashley, R.K., & Walker, R.B.J., (1990), “Reading Dissidence/Writing the Discipline: Crisis and theQuestion of Sovereignty in International Studies,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.34,No.3, p.370.Page 61than real, and post-modernism “more a philosophical [problem] than an empirical one.”49According to Andrew Cutrofello, for example, there is a “double eschatological gesture in thisdiscourse: some sort of present end of modernity is affirmed, but as something yet to beconfirmed or realized in its own right.”50 Post-modernity is thus said to exist, but only in thefuture — as prophecy. Indeed, Cutrofello identifies what others have missed, how the fiction ofpost-modernism as an objective condition is made “real” by setting it within a futuristicpresence. In other words, post-modernism is a “reality” fabricated in theory by post-modernists,who then speculate about the objective parameters of post-modernism as a future reality. Thesleight of hand or the “double eschatological gesture” comes when post-modernists situatethemselves in this future, and then from this futuristic vantage point look back on the age ofmodernity and denounce it retrospectively. Post-modern theory thus becomes a vicariousdialectic “about whether there is such a thing as post-modernity at all,” and conductedesoterically with frequent trips “back to the future” in order that we can know the nature of anage yet to be realized and comment on the end of an age yet to happen! 51 Time spacedistanciation, it seems, makes real time travel for post-modernists, who, as fortunetellers of thefuture, are able to dismiss the present as the past.As clever as this may be, however, it is hardly sustainable. The use of smoke andmirrors scarcely counts as a scholarly exercise in International Relations. Rather it begs an49Lee, R.L.M., (1994), “Modernization, Postmodernism and the Third World, Current Sociology, Vol.42.No.2,Summer, pp.11,6. See also, Harvey, D., (1991), The Condition ofPostmodernity: An Enquiry into the Originsof Cultural Change. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.° Cutrofello, A., (1993), “Must We Say What ‘We’ Means: The Politics of Postmodernism,” Social Theoryand Practice, Vol.19,No.1, Spring, p.93.51 ibid.Page 62obvious question: are post-modernists responding to objective changes in the nature, scope, andrealities of international relations, or are they imagining what the scope, nature, and extent ofthese “new” realities might be in a future that we cannot know? And on the basis of thisunknowable future, to what extent are post-modernists simply engaged in a prematuredeconstructive exercise, more politically motivated than objectively warranted? Well mightpost-modernists engage in a reflective project that reconsiders current (modernist) realities byreinscribing them in new conceptual boxes with new labels and theories, but to do so on thebasis of an assumed foreknowledge of the imminent end of these realities is no more soundthan capnomancy. Indeed, to prophesize “new realities” amid a “post-modern age” that remainsunrealized, is to confuse what is for what might be. This is as nonsensical as writing about thepast before it has occurred, or of announcing the “end of history” in the middle of it. Yet thisis not to countenance against a political imagination contemplative of “what ought to be” asCarr put it. “A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not even worth glancingat.”52 Rather, my point is that past, present, and future should not be confused, and that timetravel to the future to declare the end of the present, is pure absurdity.Obviously, eristic discourse of this nature is not pursued for its logical eloquence, butfor the effect it has upon existing theory. Indeed, while pronunciations of a “new age” remainextremely problematic and not at all in evidence, they nonetheless serve a political function,challenging the proficiency of existing theory in the discipline.53 Orthodox, modernist theory52 Oscar Wilde as quoted in Booth, K., (1991), “Security in Anarchy: Utopian Realism in Theory andPractice,” International Affairs, Vol.67,No.3, July, p.527.See, for example, Roberts, A., (1991), “A New Age in International Relations?,” International Affairs,Vol.67,No.3, July, pp.509-25.Page 63that fails to articulate, or celebrate, the advent of a “new age” is, by default, characterised asoutdated, old-hat, and redundant. Only theoretical innovation replete with new taxonomicmethods, new deconstructive strategies and nomenclature, are said to be able to grapple withthe complex realities of a world rapidly changing and transposing itself. Failing to ride the crestof the “new” “post” wave, is thus to forfeit any hope for understanding current realities.Innovation has itself become a goal for International Relations, and those who refuse thisimpulse run the risk of being derided as gerontologists of “past” approaches, concerns, andissues.Traditional concerns are now “old” concerns. Orthodox theory “outdated” theory.Epistemologies and theoretical orientations that fail to approximate the “new” reflectivist trendsin theory, are quickly disparaged as either positivist, empirical, totalitarian, modernist, or someother suitably derogatory term that signifies their closure as useful approaches. Yet, more thanany other concern, the problem of war and the relative distribution of power amid the searchfor security (all broadly conceived in relation to economic, social, and political criteria), remaincentral to the study and understanding of international politics. Such concerns explain whymany in the discipline remain disposed to modernist/rational and technical problem-solvingtheory. The latter, especially, remains an important tool for addressing the numerous practicalproblems that are endemic to the very nature of international politics. Epistemology might becurrently fashionable, but the problem of war has not vanished. Nor, indeed, have internationalpolitics transposed themselves into some globally homogenous affair where the problem ofscarcity amid competition is so trite as to allow us the luxury of reflecting metaphysically. Butprecisely because some of us would resist such metaphysical absorption, ours is an approachPage 64now derided. Rengger and Hoffman, for example, insist that such theoretical dispositions areoutdated, demonstrating how “international relations is... a reactive area of study.. .laggingbehind important intellectual debates in other areas by 10-20 years.”54 Similarly, for RichardHiggott, it indicates a certain “methodological smugness that has.. .dominated the discipline ofinternational relations...”55These conclusions, though, are mistaken and typical of those who, through myopia,view progress solely in terms of theoretical innovation. We “lag behind” precisely becausethose issues deemed important originally continue to persist, and because many of thetheoretical approaches developed to deal with these issues endure in their ability to guide andinform us. We cannot afford to abandon issue areas just because of the dictates of faddism;epistemology might be all the rage but this does not mean that those who continue to focus ontraditional areas of concern, those who aspire to peace and the avoidance of war, are “laggingbehind.” To suppose that each “new” phase and fad requires the wholesale junking of previousapproaches, concerns, or issue areas, is outright absurdity. Those self-professed beacons of lightwho would claim “new” theories, “new” ages, “new” breakthroughs and the suspension of allpast knowledge and wisdom, are often unbeknowningly the modern mouthpieces of historicalechoes, restating old facts and theorems in “new” ways.It is thus that this thesis is suspicious of those who claim “new” theory, radicaldisjuncture, or, who through the prefix post, imply that they operate on new intellectual plainsRengger, N., & Hoffman, M., (1992), op.cit, p.145,n.13.Higgott, R., (1988), “Realism and International Relations: Towards a Multi-Dimensional Critique,” inHiggott, R., (ed.), New Directions In International Relations?: Australian Perspectives, Canberra: Departmentof International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University, p.3.Page 65unconnected to those of the Enlightenment. This should not be taken to imply, however, thatI admonish the notion, or importance, of change. But rather, that change should becontextualized amid the genealogical unfolding of history, where “new” is not detached fromsocial and historical moorings but located firmly within them and understood as an interrelatedconsequence of the past. Conversely, this thesis is not a call for the reinstatement of “old”knowledge and theory. Rather, it is a call for a return to theory, a return to the project ofstudying international relations and a continuation, rather than deconstruction, of this enterprise.My reticence to embrace the “Third Debate” and endorse its concerns, methods, and objectives,rests on this very point; that post-modernism in certain of its varieties is not a theoreticalapproach to the study of international relations, but a polemic against International Relationsand an attempt to realize intellectual disjuncture.There are thus some very real, and potentially detrimental, consequences to the “ThirdDebate” that need to be reckoned with. On a practical level, for example, we need question theopportunity cost of these intellectual distractions. They are not benign. To what extent, forinstance, does reflecting about post-modernist realities that might exist tomorrow distract usfrom the problems of today? Can we really afford metaphysical reflection amid continuinginequality, war, famine, and underdevelopment? Is “deconstruction” a more important task thanan expose on, say, North-South trade relations or the Lomé Conventions? Should we devotemore energies to a textual analysis of game theoretic approaches and less to regime theory? Isa study of the logocentric practices of rational actor models of greater urgency than scholarshipinto the politics of development? In light of the “Third Debate” it seems no longer possible toestablish a hierarchy of issues in international relations, or a “core” to our subject.Page 66Perspectivism disparages the idea of a centre and makes relative the issues that we consider.War is no more important an issue area than is the study of regimes, and regimes no morecentral to international relations than is feminist theory or the Rio agreement on the globalenvironment. The new egalitarianism makes the scope of International Relations so wide thatit no longer has a focus, nor indeed, a sense of place and purpose among other disciplines. Yetthis is not to make “illegitimate” certain approaches to the study of international relations. I amnot attempting to sanction certain methodologies and censure others. Rather, what I amattempting to demonstrate is that some issues are more important than others, and that if thenotion of discipline as an organizing principle of scholarly activity is to have any meaning,then we must recognize that there is a “core” set of issues that must take precedent over others.One of the consequences of the “Third Debate,” then, has been to dilute our sense ofdiscipline to the point where we threaten to become unrecognizable. To what extent, forexample, is an intertextual analysis of Andre Malraux’s novel, Man’s Fate, Arthur Koestler’s,Darkness at Noon, Stanley Kramer’s film, The Defiant Ones, and the “sexual favours” soughtby Casanova, germane to an appreciation of the literature on the prisoner’s dilemma?56 Wheredo we draw boundaries to demarcate the beginning and end of those factors, issues, topics,strategies, and theories that reasonably fall within the scope of International Relations? Or isit sufficient that a stream of consciousness in the form of a discontinuous narrative may nowconstitute research in International Relations?5756 See the discussion in Hurwitz, R., (1989), “Strategic and Social Fictions in the Prisoner’s Dilemma,” in DerDerian, J., & Shapiro, M.J., (eds.), Internationalj’Intertextual Relations: Posimodern Readings of World Politics.New York: Lexington Books, pp.119-124.See, for example, the rather bizarre offering by James N. Rosenau (1993)(ed.), Global Voices: Dialoguesin International Relations. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.Page 67These problems are not merely semantic and definitional quibbles, but questions thatchallenge the very essence of post-modernism as a logical, coherent, and intelligible treatiseuseful to International Relations. Indeed, we might conclude that the “Third Debate” is not a“true debate” at all, if only because it has proven incapable of “advancing criteria that wouldpermit a choice between paradigms.”58 If the “Third Debate” was meant to help clear thewaters and make more apparent those issues, factors, and theoretical approaches that shouldcomprise the kernel of International Relations, then it has surely failed to do so. Instead, wethreaten to become emasculated by perspectivism, intertextualism, relativism, and vapid debatewhose only purpose seems to be the obliteration of “boundaries between literature and otherdisciplines” in order to reduce “all modes of thought to the common condition of writing.”59The intellectual liberality of International Relations that allows the “importation” of as muchtheory as it invents, has flung open the disciplinary doors to all who would make a home inInternational Relations. Susan Strange, for example, is not alone when she notes that“[i]nternational relations stands as the one social science with barriers to entry so low thatanyone can jump them.”6°The problem, of course, is that all and sundry jumping aboard shipCox, W.S., & Sjolander, C.T., (1994), op.cit, p.4.Zagorin, P., (1990), ‘Historiography and Postmodemism: Reconsiderations,” History and Theory,Vol.24,No.3, p.271.60 Strange, S., (1989), “I Never Meant to Be An Academic,” in Kruzel, J., & Rosenau, J.N., (eds.), JourneysThrough World Politics: Autobiographical Reflections of Thirty-four Academic Travelers. Lexington,Massachusetts: Lexington Books, p.435.Page 68threatens to make meaningless those barriers that otherwise give us a sense of disciplinaryidentity. As Stanley Hoffmann warned, “a flea market is not a discipline.”6’Much like an overburdened sea vessel, International Relations is in danger offloundering amid inclement theoretical weather. The thunderclaps of theoretical reinvention,the fog banks of metaphysics, and the winds of the “Third Debate,” are whipping up the seasamid an approaching storm. But rather than batten down the hatches and make ready to rideout bad weather, International Relations continues to fish, reeling in yet more agendas fromthe depths of the sea. Other ships have headed for fair skies; we, on the other hand, continueto drag our nets, running the risk of losing sight of land altogether and of drifting aimlesslywithout purpose, direction, and definition. In the process, the streamlined concerns of ourdisciplinary ship have been transformed into that of a cumbersome barge. No longer do werace toward some defined goal so much as list awkwardly upon an increasingly turbulentocean. Where once it was simply a matter of setting sail, of traversing the empirical seascapeand charting new landmarks, now it is a matter of keeping the bow line above water as yetmore souls hastily clamber aboard. Consequently, not only is our disciplinary barge provingharder to steer, but we face the more immediate risk of being lost at sea; capsized by our owngoodwill and intellectual tolerance.However, it is not merely inclement theoretical weather that should concern us. Adrifton the high seas, International Relations finds itself at the mercy of those whom it has helpedaboard. As those below deck continue the task of empirical workmanship and maintain the61 Hoffmann, S., (1960), “International Relations as a Discipline,” in Hoffiuiann, S., (ed.), ContemporaryTheory in International Relations, Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall, p.6. For a related discussion see Bull,H., (1972), “International Relations as an Academic Pursuit,” Australian Outlook, Vol.26,No.3, December,pp.251-265.Page 69stock of cargo integral to International Relations, there are those newly arrived above deck whowould mutineer and head us toward the rocks. The fog horns of warning might be sounding,but the discipline it seems is reluctant to heed to the lighthouse of rationality. Even those inthe crows nest appear blinded by the fog of post-modernism, whose thick veil of nomenclatureand insipid bouts of deconstruction, renders ineffectual the discipline’s sense of direction andalertness. Without radar, the navigational hazards of perspectivism and the exponential growthin theories, research agendas and issue areas, makes it near impossible for those at the helmto decide whether sea, land, or yet another mirage lie ahead. Those on the bridge are baffled.Do we let the sea-change of theoretical innovation and post-modernism fill our disciplinarysails and take us blindly to new oceans, or do we resist these tides and hope the seasonal tradewinds return us to charted waters? Navigating between “islands of theory,” the reefs ofirrationality and the icebergs of deconstruction, has never been more treacherous. Thus, wemust ask ourselves whether we wish to continue indefinitely a sea voyage that will take us toyet more islands, or whether we should dock, tie up ship, and begin the cultivation of aparticular island and its theory. Where to dock ship, however, what island port to choose, whatcriteria we use, and who captains the helm, are questions for which answers have never beenmore illusive.ConclusionThis chapter has sought to provide some preliminary comments on the consequencesof the “Third Debate” and the newest radical perspectivism. As should be obvious, the “ThirdDebate” is a multifaceted and vexatious affair, housing numerous, often diverse, criticalreflections that challenge the sanctity of International Relations as traditionally constructed.Page 70Within this ambit, the “Third Debate” poses challenges, opportunities and dangers for thediscipline of International Relations. Yet by virtue of the diverse constellation of approachesit houses, a precise understanding of the “Third Debate” and its possible consequences remainsobscure. Indeed, for the most part, the “Third Debate” has been heralded not by inquisitivecomprehension but banal announcements of its arrival. Few have attempted to dissectsystematically the “debate,” comprehend its parameters and understand its consequences. Thatit has arrived is now obvious; less so, however, is what it means to the discipline, what itmight do to theory, and whether or not this is beneficial. As Chris Brown notes, “[a]s yet, thereis little critical literature on postmodernism in IR,” that is, apart from “the criticismspostmodernists have of each other.”62 This chapter has therefore been a contribution to thisdilemma, albeit rudimentary. Moreover, the remainder of this thesis addresses this very project,attempting a critical understanding of post-modernism in International Relations.62 Brown, C., (1994), “Critical Theory and Postmodernism in International Relations, “in Groom, A.J.R., &Light, M., (eds.), Contemporary International Relations: A Guide to Theory. London: Pinter, p.62.71IntroductionIf, as Nicholas Onuf argues, the “edifice” of theory is today under attack, and if, as JohnO’Neill observes, “words and things have come unstuck,” then this chapter is a contributionto understanding the parameters of this crisis as it emerged with the arrival of post-moderntheory.’ My intent is not to contribute to that genre of literature but to attempt anunderstanding of it, at least in proportions which will allow us, in subsequent chapters, toassess critically its implications for international political theory. To that end, this chapterexplores the intellectual strategies of a number of contemporary post-modernists, in part toprovide some conceptual clarity to the monolith of theory labelled post-modern, and secondly,to demonstrate the abundance of different perspectives housed under the singular lexicon post-modernism.The chapter is divided thematically into two major sections. The first attempts to situate,contextualize and make sense of the phenomena2of post-modernism. I do this by offering twointerpretive discussions of the leitmotifs of post-modern theory as popularly understood: post-modernism as deconstruction, and post-modernism as epochal change. These discussionsprovide a brief overview of the aims, issues, and concerns of post-modernists and illustrate thescope of the post-modernist “project.” Broadly conceived, the aim of the first section is tomake sense of post-modernism and locate it in relation to its modernist counterpart. The secondsection develops a series of heuristic typologies or, more accurately, thematic “ideal types.”‘Onuf, N.G., (1989), World of Our Making: Rules and Rule in Social Theory and International Relations.Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, p.11. O’Neill, J., (1990), “Postmodernism and(Post)Marxism,” Silverman, H.J., (ed.), Postmodernism ——Philosophy and the Arts. New York: Routledge, p.78.2 This is deliberately plural since I will insist that post-modernism is not a singular concept but multifariousand anointed of many constituencies.Page 72These I employ as ordering categories that, in subsequent chapters, are used in the constructionof a critical genealogical account of the way certain post-modernist theories have beenexpropriated, imported, and applied to the study of international relations and in theconstruction of international political theory. In this sense, these categories are developed forpurely analytical purposes; to demonstrate that international political theory surrendered carteblanche to post-modernist idiolects, represents not only a step backwards but a step into theabyss. My intent throughout the next three chapters, then, is to argue the case for judiciousreflection and scholarly circumspection in the importation of Continental philosophy intoInternational Relations. In particular, I will seek to demonstrate how only certain post-modernist perspectives have utility for International Relations, that some have no utility at all,and still others are detrimental to the discipline and theoretical endeavour.Two Interpretations of Post-modernism: Post-modern Theory as DeconstructionIt is hard to know what to make of the idioms and idiolects of the post: postmodernism, post-structuralism, post-positivism, or post-marxism, for example. These so-called“discourses” now constitute much of contemporary language and theory, eliciting both praiseand scorn. Harry Levin, for example, abjures post-modernism for its anti-intellectualism. IrvingHowe thinks it a mass cultural phenomenon “impatient with mind.” And John Gardnerdescribes it as hyper-intellectualism. As to what constitutes the laconically labelled post-modern, few agree, noting as does Dick Hebdige that:It becomes more and more difficult.. .to specify exactly what it is that“postmodernism” is supposed to refer to as the term gets stretched in allNewman, C., (1985), The Post-Modern Aura: The Act of Fiction in an Age of Inflation. Evanston:Northwestern University Press, p.31.Page 73directions across different debates, different disciplinary and discursiveboundaries, as different factions seek to make it their own, using it to designatea plethora of incommensurable objects, tendencies, emergencies.4Indeed, despite its proliferation throughout the social sciences and humanities, post-modernism remains a curious lexeme of hotly contested ideas, meanings and political agendas.Post-modernist writings, for example, can only be described as an intellectual maelstrom, andthe post-modernist movement a diverse collection of followers who, ostensively, are neitherunited in intent, similar in focus or method, nor canonized in terms of theoretical precision.Charles Newman, for example, thinks post-modernism is a kind of incomplete non-idea thatexists neither as a “canon of writers, nor a body of criticism.”5 In fact, post-modernism is notso much a statement of principles, a political doctrine, a methodological formula or a grandtheory, as it is a cathartic apostasy; a renunciation of faith in modernism, rationality, science,technology and the philosophy of presence (representation).6Subsequently, the post-modernlexeme has been adopted in seemingly disparate milieus: emblematic, at one and the same time,of the assemblage of stylistic expressions in architecture; the landscape of political-economicchanges in the nature of production and consumption; the mediascape of images comprisingthe simulacra; the crisis of representation and the allegoric tendency toward sign and symbol;the transformation of time-space dimensions with the revolutions in communications andtransportations; the deconstruction of text and subject and the rise of intertextualism andintersubjectivity; and the repudiation of modernist philosophy seen as atonal, logocentric,Hebdige, D., (1988), Hiding in the Light: On Images and Things. London: Routledge, p.181.Newman, C., (1985), op.cit, p.5.Collins, J., (1992), “Post-modernism as Culmination: The Aesthetic Politics of Decentred Cultures,” inJencks, C., (ed.), The Post-Modern Reader. London: Academy Editions, p.104.Page 74instrumentalist, and rationalist. Thus might we conceive of post-modernism not as a theory ortheories but, as Hebdige argues, “a space, a ‘condition’...where competing intentions,definitions, and effects, diverse social and intellectual tendencies and lines of force convergeand clash.”7Since the late 1 970s, few disciplines have been untouched by the temerity of post-modernist writings and readings. Philosophy, politics, music, film, sociology, geography,literary criticism, development studies, as well as International Relations, all display post-modernist intrusion.8 This perhaps explains why those attempting to define post-modernismare almost always presaged to failure. Post-modernism is, after all, cryptic in form, enigmaticand amorphous, its conduit protected by language deracination and fecundity in dimensions.As Donald Kuspit notes, post-modernists are “protected by mystique,” their writings“rhapsodic,” “elusive,” “exhilarating” and “used with licence.” Like a panacea, post-modernistliterature is rich with linguistic parody, irony, meaning and insight. Yet as Kuspit also notes,these very qualities dispose the intellectual content of post-modernist writings to disintegrateDick Hebdige as quoted in Reimer, B., (1989), “Postmodern Structure of Feeling: Values and Lifestyle inthe Postmodern Age.” in Gibbins, J.R., (ed.), Contemporary Political Culture: Politics in a Postmodern Age.London: Sage Publications, pp.110-111. A useful introduction that provides some background to the modernistand post-modernist labels is found in Smart, B., (1990), “Modernity, Postmodernity and the Present,” in Turner,B.S., (ed.), Theories ofModernity and Postmodernity. London: Sage Publications, pp.14-30.8 Indeed, in the case of geography, for example, Edward Soja has gone as far to argue that the discipline hasundergone a comprehensive “postrnodernization,” reconstituting its “tapestry” in ways that have disintegrated itstraditional concerns and boundaries. See Soja, E., (1987), “The Postmodernization of Geography: A Review,”Annals of the Association ofAmerican Geographers. Vol.77.No.2, pp.289-294. See also Billinge, M., Gregory,D., Martin, R., (1984) (eds.), Recollections of a Revolution: Geography as a Spatial Science. London:Macmillan, and Marden, P., (1990), “Deconstruction and Interpretivism: A Critical Appraisal of the PostStructuralist Tendencies of Postmodern Geographies,” Working Paper, No.32, Department of Geography andEnvironmental Science, Monash University, Australia.Page 75“on direct contact with reality.”9 Indeed, post-modernists prefer the ether of the unspecifiedto the vexed realities of inscribed practices, disciplinary specialization, or concision in methodand technique. Their ease in depreciating science and fixity in meaning, interpretation andknowledge, and destabilising the very idea of theory, has no equal voracity when it comes tobuilding a constructive discourse. Instead, post-modernists prefer to disparage modernistrationalism as instrumentalist, dismiss epistemology as foundationalist, and reject ontology aspositivist. As the cherished centre pieces of Enlightenment thought and Western rationalism,these critical-intellectual tools are summarily dismissed as no longer useful and no longerlegitimate. In their place, post-modernists appeal to an as yet unspecified set of “other” criteriaas the appropriate vehicles for understanding post-modern theory. Consequently, traditionaltheorists like Christopher Norris or Alex Callinicos, display bewilderment at the ethereality,theoretical brevity and reluctance of post-modernists to enunciate their epistemic motif beyondthe errant practices of deconstruction. Above all they are disenchanted at the unwillingnessof post-modernists to abide by established rules for intellectual engagement: how does onerationally assess post-modern theory when post-modernists eschew all references to rationalistdiscourse?Post-modernist writings are also confusing if only because of their predilection foreclecticism and tendency to divaricate into numerous, seemingly unrelated issue areas. It is notunusual, for example, for post-modernism to be understood synchronously a means of readingKuspit, D., (1990), “The Contradictory Character of Postmodernism,” in Silverman, H.J., (ed.), op.cit, p.54.10 See Norris, C., (1990), What’s Wrong With Postmodernism: Critical Theory and the Ends ofPhilosophy,Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Callinicos, A. (1989), Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique.Cambridge: Polity Press.Page 76texts, a method for theoretical deconstruction, a form of political-economy, a variant offeminist writings, an epitaph to modernism, a post-avant-garde post-expressionist form ofaesthetics, as well as a new hyper-consumer culture riven by image.’1 The transientdiscursiveness of post-modern theory makes its place of origin, and its meaning, almostaeolian. Indeed, the very word post-modern has became a”floating signifier,” penetrating allfacets of social theory by virtue of its imprecise dimensions and thus ability to assumeinnumerable meanings dependent upon the context in which it is employed. This accords withthe conclusions of Andreas Huyssen, who argues, less than kindly, that the use of eclecticismis a thinly disguised facade that spares post-modern theory the embarrassment of revealing itstheoretical impression and meaningless nature. In fact, Huyssen has gone so far to denouncepost-modern theory as an “aesthetic simulacrum: facile eclecticism combined with aestheticamnesia and delusions of grandeur.”’2Huyssen might well be correct. Leading post-modernists like Fredric Jameson, forexample, on the one hand question whether post-modernism “even exists in the first place,” buton the other proceeds to define the objective parameters of capitalism and its cultural logic andlabel these post-modernist! ‘ Not surprisingly, such self-reflective, idiosyncratic and eclecticstyles have earned post-modernists the spurious title of the “anything goes” movement. Thisis not an altogether inappropriate characterisation given the ubiquitous nature of postSee the discussion, for example, in Rose, M., (1992), “Defining the Post-modem,” in Jencks, C., (ed.), ThePost-Modern Reader. London: Academy Editions, pp.119-136.12 Huyssen, A., (1984), “Mapping the Postmodem,” New German Critique, No.33, Fall, p.8.‘ Jameson, F., (1984), “The Politics of Theory: Ideological Positions in the Postmodern Debate,” NewGerman Critique, No.33, Fall, p.53.Page 77modernists to transgress disciplinary boundaries and engage in deconstructive language gamesand ethereality.’4 However, the latter of these tendencies is better understood as a statementof political resistance rather than a theoretical innovation; a means of stepping outside theestablished practices of scholarship and infusing it with critical insight. The incorporeal natureof language destabilization, for example, allows post-modernists to attack the rigidities ofmodernist discourse, particularly the sanctums of logic and reason, and escape the victimizationwhich they argue has led to their “exile,” “marginalization” and “disempowerment.” Etherealitytherefore becomes a political act of non-conformity, and textual deconstruction a way of“undoing” and challenging the power hierarchy of modernist theory that presupposesconformity in method, logic, knowledge and interpretation.One of the primary objectives of much post-modernist scholarship thus concerns itselfwith a form of deconstructive pluralism, deliberately designed to destabilize, or at least tochallenge, the system(s) of knowledge premised upon Western rationalism and derived fromthe Enlightenment. Where the project of modern political theory might be said to concern itselfwith the “good society,” to inventing rules, norms, standards, and defining objectives on thebasis of some master-blueprint or universal grand-strategy, post-modern theory might be saidto be its arch rival, committed to seeing an end to this (modernist) project. Yet the alternativesit offers are all but invisible, especially when its aetiological basis is hidden beneath acomplicated developmental historiography punctuated only by a disposition toward continentalphilosophy (in particular, French post-structuralist theory). Hardly surprisingly, then, the veryhubris of post-modern theory continues to suffer from ill-defined parameters that betray anCollins, J., (1992), op.cit, p.119.Page 78incomplete conception of itse1f, and which inclines it to self-contradiction, discursiveness,irreverence, and complicated forms of expression and self-explanation. 15However, these qualities should not be confused with great complexity or intellectualdepth, but more so with linguistic and semeiotic intimidation. In fact, post-modem theorydisplays a central matrix remarkably simplistic and myopic in its theoretical and practicalintent: the theoretical intent of negation, and the practical intent of resistance. The post-modernist “project,” for example, is readily defined by its perfunctory rehearsal of the litanyof horrors and injustices carried out in the modernist era. Jim George, for instance, argues thatpost-modern theory is able to connect “the nightmarish dimensions of the Enlightenmentdream” with the rise of the “rational subject” and “the experiences of Hiroshima andAuschwitz.” “The point,” he notes, “is that a celebration of the age of rational science andmodern society cannot simply be disconnected from the weapons of mass slaughter or thetechniques of genocide:” the “language and logic of liberty and emancipation,” cannot be“detached from the terror waged in their names.”6 In this guise, post-modernism isunderstood as a deconstructive practice: “a textual activity, a putting-into-question of the rootmetaphysical prejudice which posits self-identical concepts outside and above the disseminating15 Further to this, Hugh Silverman notes that “postmodernism has no place of origin — it can inscribe itselfin different places, at various limit points.” Silverman, H.J., (1990), “Introduction: The Philosophy ofPostmodemism,” in Silverman, H.J., (ed.), op.cit, p.4. And Jean-Francois Lyotard has gone even further, insistingthat post-modernist knowledge treats its own development “as discontinuous, catastrophic, and irrevocablyflawed.” As discussed in Scherpe, K.R., (1986-87), “Dramatization and De-dramatization of ‘the End’: TheApocalyptic Consciousness of Modernity and Post-Modernity,” Cultural Critique, No.5, p.102.16 George, J., (1993), “Of Incarceration and Closure: Neo-Realism and the New/Old World Orders,”Millennium, Vol.22,No.2, Summer, pp.216.Page 79play of language.” 17 The post-modernist project becomes an exercise in linguistic relativismthrough deconstruction; an attempt to tear apart and negate modernity and demonstrate thecentrality of language in the construction of knowledge and truth. We can see this, for example,in the derisive language employed by post-modernists, who aim to repudiate “oppositional andrelational thinking,” “deconstruct logocentric practices,” engage in “transformative ontologies,”disparage “master narratives,” make for a “polyvocal understanding,” “revalorise dialogicalapproaches,” “map new taste cultures,” present “counter hegemonic” views, and “transfiguremonological” interpretations. This is a theoretical-textual process of “undoing,” and a politicalprocess of resisting modernist practices, modernist theory, values and interpretations. isTheory-knowledge, the precepts of truth, right and wrong, just and unjust, and other logocentriccombinations, along with master-narratives premised upon rationalist argument, are not merelyquestioned but de-legitimised. This is not simply an attack upon discrete theories waged froman alternative theoretical standpoint, but a deconstructive effort to undo the activity ofEnlightenment theory and knowledge.One of the central theoretical matrices of the post-modernist project, then, is arepudiation of organonist thought systems: an attempt to deconstruct inscribed means ofreasoning and logic indicative of Western philosophy. This, undoubtedly, is what makes post-modernists so conspicuous, and their project both tenacious and tenuous. For while post-modernists are patently anti-modernist, their very rationality and purpose is prescribed by the17 Christopher Norris as quoted in Rose, M.A., (1992), The Post-modern and the Post-Industrial: A CriticalAnalysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.41.18 Indeed, Hal Foster argues that despite its apparent discursivity, post-modernism “is singular in itsrepudiation of modernism.” Foster, H., (1983), “Postmodernism: A Preface,” in Foster, H., (ed.), The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture. Port Townsend, Washington: Bay Press, p.xiiPage 80logic of modernity, whether as an alternative to it or a reaction against it. Thus, the anti-logicon which post-modern theory is founded can itself be seen the binary opposite logic ofmodernity, entrapping post-modernists within modernist logic if only because of their own antilogocentrism. Consequently, this makes post-modern theory vulnerable not only to criticismthat it is unable to escape the very logic it chastises, but also because those criticisms it levelsagainst modernist discourse invariably repudiate post-modern theory too. As Kate Manzoobserves;.even the most radically critical discourse easily slips into the form, the logic,and the implicit postulations of precisely what it seeks to contest, for it cannever step completely outside of a heritage from which it must borrow itstools — its history, its language — in an attempt to destroy that heritage itself...’9I return to a discussion of these contradictions in subsequent chapters. Suffice it to sayat this juncture, that post-modern theory as deconstruction suffers under its own obtuse logic.Post-modern Theory as Epochal ChangeWhile we often think of the post-modern project as largely a deconstructive effortinspired by Continental theorists like Jacques Derrida or Michel Foucault, post-modernism asa periodizing category and the theories it engenders are not so easily classified. What of thosewho claim the arrival of a post-modern era and a different set of sensibilities? Things aresurely changing; we no longer inhabit an era understood as simply modernist, but one where19 Manzo, K., (1991), “Modernist Discourse and the Crisis of Development Theory,” Studies in ComparativeInternational Development, Vol.26,No.2, Summer, p.8.Page 81hyper-activity in communications, transportations, trade and electronic images, presupposes a“new” set of realities.20Since the late 1970s it has become common parlance to speak the language of “new,”“changed,” “transformed” or “re-ordered” realities. The world is now understood to becomposed of “new” economic, political, and spatial configurations. Various authors write ofthe restructuring of global industry, the rise of transnational finance capital, the newinternational division of labour, the new international economic “disorder,” the end of “PaxAmericana” and the rise of “Pax Nipponica,” the emergence of “global civil society” and the“re-ordering of world capitalism.”21 Along with these pronunciations of “new” and“transformed” realities, new theoretical methods have emerged whose aim is to understandthese transformations in light of the workings of either capitalism, culture, consumption,aesthetics, production, representation, or some combination therein.22 Many of these20 For discussions about the “changed” realities of world capitalism, relations of production, technologies,communications, and thus in the political-economy of global relations, see the following: Andrews, B., (1982),“The Political Economy of World Capitalism: Theory and Practice,” International Organization, Vol.36.No.l,Winter, pp.135-163. Drucker, P.F., (1986), “The Changed World Economy,” Foreign Affairs, Vol.64,No.4,Spring, pp.768-791.‘ See the following literatures: Frobel, F., Heinrichs, J., & Kreye, 0., (1978), “The New InternationalDivision of Labour,” Social Science Information, Vol.1 7,No. 1, pp.123-142, Thrift, N., (1986), “The Geographyof International Economic Disorder,” in Johnston, R.J., & Taylor, P.J., (eds.), A World in Crisis?. Oxford: BasilBlackwell, pp.l2-6’7, Caporaso, J. A., (1981), “Industrialization in the Periphery: The Evolving Global Divisionof Labour,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.25 .No.3, September, pp.347-84, Andreff, W., (1984), “TheInternational Centralization of Capital and the Re-ordering of World Capitalism,” Capital & Class, No.22, Spring,pp.58-80, Peet, R., (1983), “Introduction: The Global Geography of Contemporary Capitalism,” EconomicGeography, Vol.59.No.2, April, pp.105-111, Lipschutz, R.D., (1992), “Heteronomia: The Emergence of GlobalCivil Society,” Mimeograph, Paper prepared for the International Studies Association Conference, Atlanta,Georgia, March 31 - April 4, Leaver, R., (1988), “Restructuring in the Global Economy: From Pax Americanato Pax Nipponica?,” Mimeograph, Peace Research Centre, Research School ofPacific Studies, Australian NationalUniversity.22 Of these “new” theoretical forms the most obvious and successful has been the introduction of a spatialdialectic into social theory and political-economy. See, for example, the writings of Jezierski, L., (1991), “ThePolitics of Space,” Socialist Review, Vol.21,No.2, April-June, pp.l’7’7-l84, Gregory, D., (1978), “Social ChangePage 82innovations are to be welcomed, deepening our theoretical understanding and knowledge. Yetto suppose the dawn of a “new age” or that this “new age” is manifestly different from thepast, is at best premature and at worst mis-conceived.Most generations are apt to be consumed with their own self importance and their senseof difference from previous generations. But “difference,” “transformation,” or “change,” doesnot necessarily equate with “new.” If we are in a “new” post-modern era, to what extent is thismerely the consequence of the modernist epoch maturing, growing, and expanding? The notionof “new,” often expressed by the prefix “post” signifying disjuncture and breakage, is specious.Social processes, economics, politics, and the human condition, have not suddenly reinventedthemselves in the space of a few short decades. Rather is the case that they have been subtlyaltered and affected by changing scientific innovations, technological progress, and attendantreorientations in knowledge and understanding. This is the way Anthony Giddens explains theso called “post-modern” age, not as a new era but part of the unfolding tapestry of modernity,where the radicalization and universalization of modernity now make its consequencesmanifest.23 Processes otherwise claimed as evidence of a post-modern condition, then, aremore appropriately explained as the consequences of modernity that, through reflexivity,continually transposes its form, effects, and style. Thus, for example, the “new” forms ofand Spatial Structures,” in Caristein, T., Parkes, D., & Thrift, N., (eds.), Making Sense of Time. Volume One,New York: John Wiley, pp.38-46, Gregory, D., (1989), “Presences and absences: Time-space relations andstructuration theory,” in Held, D., & Thompson, J.B., (eds.), Social Theory of Modern Societies, Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, pp.185-214. Also, the development by Anthony Giddens of structuration theory (thereflexive understanding of structure and agency in both spatial and historical contexts) has also radicallytransformed much social theory. See, for example, the excellent introductions: Bryant, C.G.A., & Jary, D.,(199 1)(eds.), Giddens Theory of Structuration: A Critical Appreciation. London: Routledge, Giddens, A., &Turner, J., (1987), Social Theory Today. Stanford: Stanford University Press, Giddens, A., (1984), TheConstitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Berkeley: University of California Press.23 Giddens, A., (1991), The Consequences ofModernity. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, p.3.Page 83cultural expressionism that post-modernists claim are a reaction against the monism ofmodernist universality, are more likely the logical consequence of technological innovationsthat make the mass transmission of ideas possible. Likewise, the fragmentation of politicalmovements and the growth of special interest groups that post-modernists insist represents anew political sensibility that “celebrates diversity,” might also be explained by the increasingspread and acceptance of liberal ideas that reject absolutism while embracing tolerance.Similarly, the “new” styles and objectives of literary texts which have been coterminous withchallenges to traditional conceptions of the role and purpose of theory, are likely not instancesof “post-modernist” theory as they are a reflection of the depreciation of Western influencesthrough greater cross-culturalism due to global advances in literacy, communications and travel.And finally, the advent of hyper-consumerism that post-modernists claim is a result of the“simulacra” and the fixation with image and style, is more obviously caused by materialistsaturation, mass consumption and marketing techniques, and fabricated by the availability ofthe mass electronic and print medias. In other words, talk of a post-modern age is merely talkof the consequences of modernity, particularly developments in its constituent parts, namely:liberal democracy, industrialism, capitalism, technology, and science. What post-modernistsmistake as “new” cultural forms, or as “new” modes of production, are really consequences ofold and well established modernist practices: a case of old wine in new bottles.In their zeal to proclaim a “new” epoch, post-modernists have thus been inclined tomyopia and ahistoricism, forgetting how instrumental and interrelated is the past to the present.As David Harvey notes, while many now employ the popular idiom of post-modernism, “theconditions of postmodernity are still very much tied to [the] historical-geographical workingsPage 84of capitalism’s inner logic.” But as he also warns, this makes the “rhetoric ofpostmodernism. . .dangerous for it avoids confronting the realities of political economy and thecircumstances of global power.”24 Indeed, for post-modernists who stress deconstruction, whatis “new” about the post-modern epoch is not the centrality of power or production, but thedevolution of a central, sovereign and authoritative centre of interpretation and meaning. AsRichard Ashley notes, European “peoples and places;”.long certain of their absolute presence as a centre of meaning and origin ofauthority, [have] had to accommodate their situation in a wider world ofcontesting cultures that at once effectively resist and effectively penetrate theEuropean territory of truth.25This, for Ashley, is the essence of a “new” post-modern sensibility, a kind ofrelativistic-plural world full of competing interpretations with no sovereign centre. Yet this toomight also be viewed a stage in the development of modernity: the effects of modernization,for example, that colonizers increasing parts of the global political-economy and changes thespatial dimension of geographic, economic and cultural relationships.Regardless, my point should be obvious, that post-modern theory is considerably morecomplex then a simple “deconstructive” reading would suggest. As I will demonstrate shortly,the assumption of epochal change and new realities has spawned a whole series of theories, alsovariously labelled “post-modern.” Most obviously, notions of a “post-modern era” haveengendered new ways of “doing theory.” Issues previously thought unimportant have become24 As quoted in Marden, P., (1992), “The Deconstructionist Tendencies of Postmodern Geographies: ACompelling Logic?,” Progress in Human Geography, Vol.1 6,No, 1, p.46.25 Ashley, R.K., (1991), ‘The State of the Discipline: Realism Under Challenge,” in Higgott, R., &Richardson, J.L., (eds.), International Relations: Global andAustralian Perspectives on an Evolving Discipline.Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, the Australian NationalUniversity, p.48.Page 85central, conceptions of time and space are changed, new sets of questions and issues have beenraised, and a whole host of theories have arisen to address these issues.This process has been common enough in the social sciences: a movement away fromessentialist grand-theoretic narratives towards multi-theoretical perspectivism and “islands oftheory.” Arguably, this eclecticism in theoretical approaches and ideas itself constitutes a “post-modern” sensibility: the notion that things are too complex to be grasped by any one theoreticalaccount. The late-modem world is now variously understood to be composed ofinterpenetrating and multiple realities, where complexity in social, economic, and politicalrelationships are further compounded by a multitude of electronic images, disparate culturalinfluences, and changes in the dimensional referents of time and space due to advances intransportations and communications. What this represents for post-modernists is “a profoundshift in the structure offeeling” in the “culture of advanced capitalist” societies.26 As JaneFlax observes:Something has happened, is happening to Western societies.. .Western culture isin the middle of a fundamental transformation: a “shape of life” is growing old.The demise of the old is being hastened by the end of colonialism, the uprisingof women, the revolt of other cultures against white Western hegemony, shiftsin the balance of economic and political power within the world economy, anda growing awareness of the costs as well as the benefits of scientific“progress.”27For post-modernists, the complexity of these realities discounts the utility of mono-theoretical (essentialist) accounts. Instead, it suggests the need for multiple theoretical analyses26 As quoted in Harvey, D., (1991), The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins ofCultural Change. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, p.39.27 Jane Flax as quoted in George, J., (1993), op.cit, pp.215-216.Page 86that avoid reflection on any one dimension in favour of a reflexive understanding ofrelationships between social, political and economic dimensions.This trend is generally constitutive of the new forms of post-modern theory in political-economy. These tend to; a.) subsume disciplinary boundaries; b.) concern themselves withtechno-scientific change and their economic, political and social consequences in theses of the“post-industrial society;” c.) integrate into theories of commodity production and consumptiona theory of aesthetics and cultural forms; d.) problematize claims and suppositions and exposethem to critical analysis; e.) contextualize knowledge claims, and in the context ofdeconstruction theory; f.) attempt to “obliterate the boundaries between literature and otherdisciplines” and reduce “all modes of thought to the common condition of writing.”28Thus, if we are to approach an understanding of post-modernism, we must first realisethat no one understanding is sufficient. Certainly its dominant constellations exist asdeconstructive anti-modernist efforts, but this is not true of all post-modern theory or post-modernists. Increasingly, those who claim a post-modern heritage are not easily slotted into adeconstructionist mould, but concern themselves with objective changes in technologies,economics, political organization, culture and their reflexive effects upon such things as interstate relations, interdependence, or consumption and production patterns. Consequently, thepost-modernist lexicon is best understood as a generic shell that houses numerouscommentaries on the condition of late-modernity; some from a deconstructionist standpoint,others from a position of documenting change. What unites these forms of analysis is that allof them are reacting to the modernist project and the latent processes of modernization;28 Zagorin, P., (1990), “Historiography and Postmodemism: Reconsiderations,” History and Theory,Vol.24,No.3, p.271.Page 87whether this be a political commentary on the “nightmarish dimensions of the Enlightenmentdream,” the consequences of changing social and political sensibilities in the era of masscommunications, or on the end of the industrial era and the rise of a post-industrial one.29 Inshort, these commentaries are both a postscript to the modernist era and a preface to theconsequences of that era which are now becoming evident.A reading of post-modern theory as “epochal change” thus proves instructive. In thiscontext, post-modern theory acts as a sequential marker or periodizing category, a metaphorthat is both emblematic of changes in culture, history, society, and thought, while perhaps alsocontributory to them.3° Whether such changes are real or imagined, the point is moot. Whatis imagined today becomes tomorrows reality, and a great deal of post-modern theory isdirected toward capturing this sense of change in the “structure of feeling” which itself hasreflexive implications for the way social and political relations are actually practised. Theuniqueness of post-modern theory therefore resides in its reflexivity; its ability to offercommentary on these changes and make them real. My quibble with post-modern theory doesnot reside in these observations, but the extent to which these “changes” are the result ofmodernist attributes wrongly ascribed to a post-modern reality and detached from historical andgenealogical moorings. To this extent, post-modern theory is oxymoronic, since the realities,changes, and sensibilities it deals with are themselves modernist in origin. Thus, while the tworeadings I have offered have obvious utility, by themselves they are unable to capture the depth29 In this genre, see, for example, Berman, M., (1988), All That is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience ofModernity. Penguin.° See the discussion in Best, S., & Keliner, D., (1991), Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations. NewYork: Guilford Press, pp.29-31. See also, Connolly, W.E., (1988), Political Theory andModernity, Oxford: BasilBlackwell.Page 88of epistemological diversity within post-modern theory, or the peculiarity of its inconsonantnuances. For this, a more substantial taxonomical system is required.Four Typologies of Post-modern TheoryIf post-modernists grapple with the modalities of late-modernity, they do so inmultifarious ways, many ofwhich seem unrelated and dissimilar. As Pauline Rosenau observes,there are “as many forms of post-modernism as there are post-modernists,” making post-modern theory a diverse amalgam of contending interests and approaches. 31 Any classificatoryscheme that attempts to order post-modern theory is thus prone to the dangers ofoversimplification, not least because it will invariably reduce the breadth and diversity of post-modern theory to a few cursory categories. However, if we are to gain a systematicunderstanding of post-modernism and its diversity, then such typologies are not onlyheuristically necessary but indispensable.The application of Weberian “ideal types” to post-modern theory is not new. Hal Foster,for example, schematically divided post-modern theory into two categories: a“Neoconservative” and “Post-structuralist” variety. Similarly, Pauline Rosenau wrote of“Affirmative” and “Skeptical” post-modernism; Richard Rorty of deconstructionist and“bourgeois postmodernism;” and Mark Hoffman of “critical” and “radical interpretivism.”32While classifications of this nature are useful they also betray a number of problems inherent“ Rosenau, P.M., (1992), Post-modernism and the Social Sciences. New Jersey: Princeton University Press,p.15.32 See Foster, H., (1983) (ed.), Recordings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics. Port Townsend, Washington:Bay Press, pp.121-137. See also, Foster, H., (1984), “(Post)Modem Polemics,” New German Critique, No.33,Fall, pp.67-78. Rosenau, P., (1992), op.cit, Rorty, R., (1980), Philosophy and the Mirror ofNature. Princeton,New Jersey: Princeton University Press, Hoffman, M. (1991), “Restructuring, Reconstruction, Reinscription,Rearticulation: Four Voices in Critical International Theory,” Millennium, Vol.20.No.2, pp.169-185.Page 89in the construction of schematic “ideal types.” First, most “ideal types” rely on simpledichotomized categories that are restrictive and exclusionary (as with the above). Theories andtheorists are never as neatly compartmentalized or clearly defined as many historiographicalepistemological narratives would suggest. And still fewer intellectual movements, let alone thepost-modem one, can be captured adequately by single variable categories like “poststructuralist” or “bourgeois.” Intellectual discourse and the manner in which ideas emerge,develop and are employed, and of how they reflexively interact with other theories and changetheir systemic structure, are notoriously complicated questions. Moreover, the inscription ofparticular theorists and theories into discrete intellectual boxes is an activity far from objective,and often infused with subjective bias and interpretation.I do not pretend to offer any alternatives to these dilemmas, but simply to acknowledgethe weaknesses implicit in the construction of classificatory schemes. These weaknesses,however, do not detract from the overall utility of schematic typologies as heuristic tools. Theircontinued use throughout the social sciences bears testimony to this. Indeed, classificatoryschemes and processes of theoretical taxonomy, are pedagogically indispensable if we are toappreciate the constituent parts of theories, assess their usefulness and utilize them. For thisreason, I also intend to employ a classificatory scheme that identifies thematic “ideal types”in post-modern theory. My reasons for this are fivefold.First, the use of thematic criteria as a basis for classification is a more nuanced meansof differentiating between post-modern theories. It avoids the pitfalls of developing andapplying rigid and overly restrictive criteria that would otherwise detract from the diversityapparent in post-modern theory. It also avoids the problem of inscribing theories into discretePage 90boxes and allows post-modern theories to occupy simultaneously a number of categories. Thismerely acknowledges the fact that post-modern theories typically deal with concurrent themesand are not mono-thematic.Second, the use of thematic classifications will assist in disentangling post-moderntheory into manageable categories that, in subsequent chapters, can be assessed individuallyand critically.Third, it will complement the idea of post-modern theory as multifarious and complexrather than hermetically unified: that is, composed of many facets that are not reducible to asingle core.Fourth, for purposes of this thesis, it will allow the identification in subsequent chapters,of those forms of post-modern theory that are useful to international political theory from thosethat are not.Andfifth, it will allow for the construction of a critical-genealogy of post-modern theoryin the discipline of International Relations; particularly the way in which certain post-moderntheories have been imported, the nature of their application, and an assessment of theirusefulness.While the criteria for the construction of ideal types are often subjectively derived, inthe case of post-modern theory a number of dominant thematic issues immediately suggestthemselves. First, I have already identified the theoretical intent of some post-modern theoriesto negate and resist modernist discourse. Second, I have identified the use of post-modernismas a periodizing category denoting change in such things as culture, technology, science,politics, and economics. Third, I also indicated that new forms of theoretical analysis havePage 91arisen in response to these “new” post-modern realities; theories which attempt anunderstanding of post-modern dynamics and why they came about.These expressed concerns allow for the identification of three broad, and by no meansinclusive, categories of post-modern theory. These I have called; i.) Subversive orDeconstructive post-modernism, reflecting the themes of negation and resistance; ii.)Technological or Productionist post-modernism, reflecting the themes of techno-scientificchanges and their reflexive social, political and economic effects, and; iii.) Epistemologicalpost-modernism, reflecting the growth of new theoretical mediums and new ways of doingtheory, particularly those concerned with assessing critically foundational propositions andcontextualizing knowledge. There is, I would argue, also a fourth type of post-modern theory,although one that again is not discrete but captures a theme apparent in post-modern literature.This is the theme of despair or nihilism. Thus, the fourth category of post-modern theory I termNihilistic post-modernism.33The four thematic categories identified here, can be briefly summarized:i.) Subversive - Deconstructive Post-modernism.Subversive post-modernism displays a thematic concern with negation and resistanceto modernist practices and discourse, primarily via a deconstructive-textual analyses oflogocentric practices, modernist knowledge systems and language. In particular, subversivepost-modernists attempt to demonstrate how all knowledge is mediated by language, and howNaturally, I do not insist that these categories constitute discrete boundaries. Rather, I use them astypologies or, in the Weberian sense, as “ideal types” for heuristic purposes in disentangling the assemblage ofliterature labelled post-modernist. Moreover, I recognise that such typologies are liable to be confusing since manyso called “post-modernists” straddle the typologies presented, easily slipping into two or more of these categoriessimultaneously.Page 92the modernist referents of “reality,” “truth,” “reason” and “logic,” are fictive socio-linguisticconstructs that act as mechanisms of social and individual control. Subversive post-modernism,through deconstruction, attempts to erect a “structure of resistance,” attacking what might bebroadly called the Western-Judaeo intellectual tradition and the politics of theEnlightenment.34ii.) Technological or Productionist Post-modernism.Technological or productionist post-modernism has a thematic matrix concerned withobjective changes: that is, as a consequence of modernity and the spread and advance ofscience and technology, the traditional modernist dialectics of production and consumption,labour and capital, state and market, etc., have been transposed with reflexive effects uponcultural forms, economics and politics. These effects are represented, for example, in theoriesof the post-industrial society, post-materialist society, or post-class society.iii.) Epistemological Post-modernism.Epistemological post-modernism seeks to expose the foundationalist assumptions onwhich meta-theoretical knowledge systems are constructed. It is a relatively benign form ofpost-modernism whose genealogy can be traced directly to the critical social theorists of theFrankfurt school.35 Because of this, it is closely associated with many of the debatesIn a similar fashion to Derrida, Hal Foster writes of the construction of a culture of resistance. See Foster,H., (1985), op.cit, pp.157-179.‘ For background see Tar, Z., (1988), The Frankfurt School. New York: Schocken Books. See also,Horkheimer, M., (1972), Critical Theory: Selected Essays, (Matthew J. O’Connell: Trans.), New York: Herder& Herder. Held, D., (1989), Introduction to Critical Theory. Berkeley: University of California Press. See alsothe various essays in Bronner, S.E., & Kellner, D.M., (1989) (eds.), Critical Theory and Society. London:Routledge. On the connections between “critical theory” and “post-modernism,” see the discussion in Best, S.,& Keilner, D., (1991), Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations. New York: Guilford Press, pp.215-255.Page 93concerning the crisis in Marxist theory and post-marxist discourse. Epistemological post-modernism is also concerned with the relationship between aesthetics and cultural forms andmodes of production, attempting to construct a unified theory of aesthetics and culture withina marxist epistemology (the work of Antonio Gramsci, for example).36iv.) Nihilistic Post-modernism.Nihilistic post-modernism presents a pessimistic and gloomy assessment of the post-modern age, one that suffers from malaise, fragmentation, meaninglessness, and the absenceof sociality. This is the dark side of post-modernism; Nietzschean in nature where the politicsof despair, the death of the subject, and the impossibility of representation and truth, reignsupreme.37Employing these categories, I argue in subsequent chapters that technological post-modernism is useful in the study of international relations and predominately operative in thenow burgeoning literature on international political-economy. However, as far as internationalpolitical theory is concerned, epistemological post-modernism, while useful, has only limitedapplications, and subversive post-modernism is wholly detrimental, albeit currently popular.Similarly, nihilistic post-modernism does not speak directly to international political theory, buthas in various instances contributed to, and in darker moments defined, debates in InternationalRelations: as prophets of finitude and impending gloom in the Club of Rome and theenvironmental “crisis,” for example, or in the doomsday politics of imminent nuclearannihilation and the soothsayers of the apocalypse.36 See, for example, Morrow, R, A., (1991), “Critical Theory, Gramsci and Cultural Studies: FromStructuralism to Poststructuralism,” in Wexier, P. (ed.), Critical Theory Now. London: Falmer Press, pp.27-69.Rosenau, P., (1992), op.cit, p.15.Page 94I will return to these themes in later chapters, but first I develop these motifs.Excursions into the Post-modernist Labyrinth: The Motifs of Post-modern TheoryIn this section I want to turn to a critical exposition of these four motifs as they occurin the writings of a number of leading post-modernists. However, as I have already mentioned,this task is made discursive if only because post-modernist writings are rarely thematicallydiscrete, but tend to operate amid a series of contending motifs by virtue of their penchant foreclecticism. Consequently, I intend to treat these motifs as porous codifications rather thanmono-thematic categories into which post-modernists might then be slotted. These motifs aretherefore advanced for purely analytical and heuristic reasons, in order that the epistemologicaland ontological constructions which underlie them might be explored and assessed critically.Post-modernism as Technological ChangeWhen writing about post-modernism, Fredric Jameson offers the mystic observation thatit is both a new age as well as an inverted form of intellectual reflection. Post-modernism, henotes, “is what you have when the modernization process is complete and nature is gone forgood.”38 It reflects an indulgent attempt at “theorizing its own condition of possibility, whichconsists,” notes Jameson, “in the sheer enumeration of changes and modifications.”39The post-modern concept is used to denote change, difference, and historical movement,and also to denote new forms of intellectual reflection, new theoretical issues, and new formsof theory. Historical or epochal change and the new forms of theory that have arisen, are notmutually exclusive but, as Jameson insists, causally connected: the latter consequent on the38Jameson, F., (1992), Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic ofLate Capitalism. Durham: Duke UniversityPress, p.ix.ibid.Page 95former. Indeed, Jameson betrays his marxist bias, particularly his reductionist penchant ofseeing intellectual change the product of changes in the nature of capitalist relations ofproduction. Subsequently, for Jameson, the post-modernist era becomes not so much a new eradetached from the previous, but, like Giddens’ understanding, an era consequent on themanifestations ofmodernity; particular those transformations evident in capitalism, science andtechnology. In fact, Jameson writes of a “third stage” in the development of capitalism; amature capitalism that displays an inner logic and whose rationality is defined by accumulation.This “third stage” incorporates into the marxist production matrix culture and aesthetics,whereby there has occurred “some fundamental mutation of the sphere of culture in the worldof late-capitalism, which includes a momentous modification of its social function.”4°Values,ideas, theory, production, class, and thinking itself, are transformed by techno-scientificadvances, allowing late-capitalism to transpose itself into a truly global phenomenon in whichthe referents of time, space, place, and cultural difference, are obliterated under itsuniversalization.Jameson approaches what I have termed a technological or productionist post-modernist:where post-modernism denotes a periodizing category expressing objective changes intechnology, culture, society and politics as a consequence of the modalities of late-capitalism.For Jameson, this constitutesa moment in which not merely the older city but even the nation-state itself hasceased to play a central functional or formal role in a process that has a newquantum leap of capital prodigiously expanded beyond them, leaving them40 ibid pp.47-48.Page 96behind as ruined and archaic remains of earlier stages in the development of thisnew mode of production. 41The post-modern era is one of new configurations, not least of them spatial, whichtransposes social orders, the role and power of the state, and affects cultural and politicalsensibilities.However, it would be naive to suppose Jameson only a technological post-modernist.He also displays a keen understanding of how theory is transformed in the post-modern epoch.For example, he is intimately involved in transforming Marxist theory from its reductionist andessentialist economism, into a reflexive theoretical understanding of the connections betweencultural forms and political and economic structures. Thus, we can also see his writingscontiguous with the motifs of epistemological post-modernism, particularly his attempts tointegrate a cultural-aesthetic dimension into (post)marxist theory and continue the criticaltheoretic tradition of the Frankfurt school. In fact, Jameson’ s project is readily understood asepistemological through his continued commitment to marxist categories like “class,” “modeof production,” and “capitalism.” In Jameson’ s writings, these categories still assume a centralontological position as sub-structural and foundational elements responsible for social relations.These categories, as in all marxist theory, remain central analytical tools in Jameson’ s effortto uncover the foundational elements responsible for post-modern life and to explain historicalmovement and transformation. Because of this, he insists that post-modernism “should not bethought of as purely a cultural affair.”42 Rather, he urges;thid, pp.412.42 ibid, p.3.Page 97.1 must remind the reader of the obvious; namely, that this whole global, yetAmerican, postmodern culture is the internal and superstructural expression ofa whole new wave of American military and economic domination throughoutthe world: in this sense, as throughout class history, the underside of culture isblood, torture, death, and terror.43Jameson’ s response to the post-modern era, then, is to infuse marxist theory with anunderstanding of culture and aesthetics while integrating them into a theory of the modes ofproduction. This, for Jameson, explains not only the dynamics of capitalist accumulation andof technological and scientific innovation, but ultimately reveals capitalism and its economic-social matrix to be the driving force of history.Scott Lash takes a slightly different perspective from that of Jameson. For Lash, post-modernism represents the cultural subterfuge of post-industrial society, particularly the“deepening of commodification.” Here, post-modernism is a cultural phenomenon witheconomic and political consequences: where commodified images are performative ofaccumulatory practices for capitalism and where the transvaluation of image and aesthetics“displace class culture.”44 For Lash, the result is the transfiguration of the universalproletarian into a cognitariat, displacing its political activism with spectatorism that pluralisesleft political culture.45 Class culture ceases to exist, the dialectics of class and capital no‘ ibid, p.5.A similar thesis positing the deepening of consumer society and the reflexive effects of culture, technologyand economics upon one another, is found in Jameson, F., (1983), “Postmodemism and Consumer Society,” inFoster, H., (ed.), The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture. Port Townsend, Washington: Bay Press,pp.11 1-125.‘ Lash, S., (1990), Sociology of Postmodernism. London: Routledge, pp.21,23,30,37-52. On the rise of thecognitariat see Jencks, C., (1986), What is Postmodernism? London: Academy Editions, p.43. On the end ofclass and universalism, see the post-marxist expositions of Laclau, E., & Mouffe, C., (1985) Hegemony andSocialist Strategy. (Winston Moore & Paul Cammack: Trans.), London: Verso. Contra the post-marxist thesis,see Geras, N., (1990), Discourses of Extremity: Radical Ethics and Post-Marxist Extravagances. New York:Verso.Page 98longer “drive” history, and those social agents previously thought central in the historicaldialectic are superseded in the post-modern age.Charles Jencks has drawn similar conclusions but argues that different mechanisms havebeen responsible for these outcomes. Jencks, for example, conflates post-modernism as acultural phenomenon with post-fordism, an economic phenomenon, and reflexively implicateseach in the other’s change. Here, the post-modern condition represents “kaleidoscopic andsimultaneous” changes;from mass production to segmented production; from a relatively integratedmass-culture to many fragmented taste cultures; from centralised control ingovernment and business to peripheral decision-making; from repetitivemanufacture of identical objects to the fast-changing manufacture of varyingobjects; from few styles to many genres; from national to global consciousnessand, at the same time, local identification...46This position is similar to Jameson’s, locating the dynamic of post-modernity withintechno-scientific changes that have reflexive cultural and aesthetic implications. Jameson, forinstance, understands the post-modern era as merely a new mode of production47,whereproduction enters the ether of image, aesthetics, symbol, sign and space:What has happened is that aesthetic production today has become integrated intocommodity production generally: the frantic economic urgency of producingfresh waves of ever more novel-seeming goods (from clothing to airplanes), atever greater rates of turnover, now assigns an increasingly essential structuralfunction and position to aesthetic innovation and experimentation.4846 Jencks, C., (1986), op.cit.Variously depicted by Jameson as ‘late-capitalism.” See Jameson, F., (1992), op.cit. See also theconversation in Stephanson, A., (1988), “Regarding Postmodemism —— A Conversation with Fredric Jameson,” inRoss, A., (ed.), Universal Abandon?: The Politics of Postmodernism. Minneapolis: University of MinnesotaPress, pp.3-30.48 Jameson, F., (1992), op.cit, p.4Page 99Jean Baudrillard goes further, declaring that the dawn of the post-modern era with itstechnological implications, marks “[t]he end of labour;” the “end of the era of production;”[tjhe end of political economy.”49Thus, for technological post-modernists, objective changes in information, computer,communication and production technologies, coupled with “new” taste cultures and politicalmovements, have transposed power relations, the workings of capital, relationships betweenstates and the importance of knowledge. This, for example, is the conclusion of Lyotard, whonotes: “Our working hypothesis is that the status of knowledge is altered as societies enter whatis known as the postindustrial age and cultures enter what is known as the postmodern age.”5°Post-modernism as Nihilistic DespairUnlike Jameson or Lash, Dick Hebdige understands post-modernism as nihilistic,viewing the post-modern age as modernist but “without the hopes and dreams which mademodernity bearable.”51 Following Walter Benjamin’s writings, post-modernity is what comesafter an age of illusion, optimism and certitude; an age where the omnipotence of Faustiantechnology and its grounding in reason, science and industry, made possible the writings ofgrand-narratives and emancipatory projects: Marxism, Freudianism, Liberalism, new moral andsocial orders. The age of modernity was the age of illusion. Post-modernity, however, is theage of disillusion, bewilderment and cynicism. Post-modernists now attack the “age of reason,”As quoted in Keilner, D., (1989), Jean Baudrilard: From Marxism to Postmodernism and Beyond.Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, p.61. See also his related discussion on the development of postmodernism in Keilner, D., (1988), “Postmodemism as Social Theory: Some Challenges and Problems,” Theory,Culture and Society, Vol.5.Nos.2-3, June, pp.239-6.°° Lyotard, J.F., (1991), op.cit, p.3.51 Hebdige, D., (1988), op.cit, p.195.Page 100critique Enlightenment thought, and react to the “excesses” of utopian reason founded on thesimplistic themes of “Truth, Justice and Right.”52 Jean-Francois Lyotard, for example, insiststhat post-modernism constitutes a “libidinal history” that “refuses to indulge” in the“complacency of knowledge,” asserting instead that there exists “no privileged standpoint fordeciphering” truth.53 Post-modernists no longer see the pursuit of knowledge a means to“truth” and “certitude,” but an intellectual mode of production used for legitimation that masksthe power it wields and those whom it serves.54 Behind Lyotard’s words lurks The Will toPower of Friedrich Nietzsche and the nihilism inscribed in the fin-de-millenium.55This is anepoch that comes at the end of history, a “twilight time of ultramodernism,” for Kroker andCook, where “the death of the grand referent of God” which so preoccupied Nietzsche,anticipates the ruins of the “postmodern condition” — nihilism; that “lightning-flash” whichilluminates the sky for an instant only to reveal the immensity of the darkness within.”56Metaphors of this hue betray the pessimism inherent in the “Postmodern Scene,” onesymbolic of a new dark age in the “dying days of modernism.. .as western culture runs down52 ibid.Lyotard, J.F., (1993), Toward the Postmodern. (Robert Harvey and Mark S. Roberts, eds.), London:Humanities Press, p.91.Lyotard, J.F., (1991), The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. (Geoff Bennington and BrianMassumi: Trans.), Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p.36.Nietzsche, F., (1968), The Will to Power. New York: Random House. On the resurgence of Nietzscheanphilosophy, especially as it relates to post-modernism, see Redding, P., (1990), “Nietzschean Perspectivism andthe Logic of Practical Reason,” The Philosophical Forum. Vol.22,No. 1, Fall, p.72-88.56 Kroker, A., & Cook, D., (1987), The Postmodern Scene. Montreal: New World Perspectives, pp.8-9.Page 101towards the brilliant illumination of a final burnout.”57 Nihilistic post-modernists thusencapsulate what Scherpe terms an “eschatological consciousness of the apocalypse,” since theycontemplate the “end” of modernity, the rise of cynicism and the triumph of nihilism in theface of declining identity, purpose, and meaning.58 This is the “age of posthistorie, the endof the world.”59The defining moment for nihilistic post-modernists is the relentless advance oftechnological society and the subsumption of all forms of human and scientific rationality untoits logic. Arthur Kroker, for example, writes of the “possessed individual;” one entrapped inan eerie simulacra of virtual reality where all original experience has evaporated. For Kroker,post-modernism is a commentary on technology. It refuses “the pragmatic account oftechnology as freedom,” progress, liberation and development, and instead represents the“tragic description of technology as denigration.”6°The hitherto dominant dialectics undermodernity — technology, alienation, class and emancipation, are now displaced: hope is gone.Post-modernism as Critical EpistemologyRaymond Morrow rejects all these interpretations and argues that post-modernism is anintellectual mirage that masks a critical (leftist) form of epistemology. Indeed, for Morrow,post-modernism is “what remains in the shambles of the Marxist and neo-Marxist theoreticalibid, On the “crisis” in Western culture see Hobsbawm, E., (1992), “The Crisis of Today’sIdeologies,” New Left Review, No.192, PP.55-64. See also Eagleton, T., (1992), “The Crisis of ContemporaryCulture,” New Left Review, No.196, pp.29-41.58 Hebdige, D., (1988), op.cit, p.201.Scherpe, K.R., (1986-87), op.cit, p.95.60 Kroker, A., (1992), The Possessed Individual: Technology and the French Postmodern. Montreal: NewWorld Perspectives, pp.2-3.Page 102positions, the best of what is left of the left.”61 Alex Callinicos explains the post-modernistdiscourse in similar terms, seeing contemporary post-modernists the leftovers of the “politicalodyssey of the 1968 generation.” That generation, he argues, has now entered middle age, themiddle class, middle management, administrative and university positions, “with all hope ofsocialist revolution gone — indeed, often having ceased to believe in the desirability of any suchrevolution.”62 As Callinicos argues;This conjuncture -.-the prosperity of the Western new middle class combinedwith the political disillusionment of many of its most articulatemembers —provides the context to the proliferating talk of postmodernism... [and]the acceptance by quite large numbers of people of certain ideas.63Callinicos dismisses post-modernism as a feel-good movement by those who wish toaccommodate their political feelings with the excesses of their “overconsumptionist” lifestyle.By turning to the politically benign spheres of culture and aesthetics, Callinicos thinks post-modernism a veiled and pathetic attempt to rid the leftovers of the “1968 generation” of theirconsumer guilt. Post-modern theory thus attempts to depict the consumption of cultural goodsas a process of individuation, an individual act of uniqueness, difference and dissimilarity, anda means of political disassociation from modernist mass production and conformity in style anddesign. But for Callinicos, this is only capitalism in a different form, and post-modernists theembourgeoised ex-radicals of the 1980s. They are, in Callinicos’ understanding, old guardtraitors who grasp at an “aesthetic pose based on the refusal to seek either to comprehend or61 See Morrow, R.A., (1991), “Critical Theory, Gramsci and Cultural Studies: From Structuralism toPoststructuralism,” in Wexler, P., (ed.), Critical Theory Now. London: Falmer Press, p.27.62 Callinicos, A., (1989), op.cit, p.168.63 ibid.Page 103transform existing social reality.”64 The consumption of cultural goods becomes the palatablepolitical act of resistance commensurate with a middle class lifestyle: “[riesistance is reducedto the knowing consumption of cultural products.”65 Thus, as Callinicos argues;The discourse of postmodernism is best seen as the product of a socially mobileintelligentsia in a climate dominated by the retreat of the Western labourmovement and the “overconsumptionist” dynamic of capitalism in a Reagan-Thatcher era. From this perspective the term “postmodern” would seem to be afloating signifier by means of which this intelligentsia has sought to articulateits political disillusionment and its aspiration to a consumption-orientatedlifestyle. The difficulties involved in identifying a referent for this term aretherefore beside the point, since talk about postmodernism turns out to be lessabout the world than the expression of a particular generation’s sense of anending.66While I have sympathy with this interpretation, I also think Callinicos’ position belittlesmuch post-marxist literature and the insights it offers. Indeed, while I also think the “1968generation” germane to an understanding of leftist post-modernism, I would explain eventsdifferently. First, we need to distinguish between those conservative and pro-consumptionistpost-modernists who celebrate discursive styles and materiality and whom Callinicos makesthe target of his criticism, from those who I have here identified as epistemological post-modernists. These post-modernists continue a leftist tradition of critical interpretivism underthe banner of post-marxism; particulary in their writings on capitalism and, more recently, onthe politics of aesthetics and culture. Where I disagree with Callinicos is that I do not see the“turn” to aesthetics and cultural forms as something “new,” but rather the contemporaryequivalent of the Frankfurt school of critical social theorists operative during the 193 Os: those64 ibid, p.170.ibid.66 ibid, pp.170-171.Page 104who retreated from the practical politics of socialist revolution because of disillusionment atthe rise of German national socialism. The same is apparent of the “1968 generation:”disillusionment at the failure of socialism and the triumph of capitalism, as Callinicos correctlypoints out, but not a moral ambiguity and resignation to consumptionism so much as a turn totheory and a theoretical critique of these phenomena.Thus, I prefer to understand epistemological post-modernists as (post)Marxist politicalemigres deprived of their historical destiny due to the triumph of neo-liberalism and capitalism.Subsequently, these theorists have turned their attentions to articulating critical social andpolitical theories that attempt to uncover the epistemic structures responsible for post-modernsocial, political and economic life.67 And just as the critical social theorists of the Frankfurtschool did it by turning to the politics of aesthetics and culture, so epistemological post-modernists do the same today.The distinguishing feature of epistemological post-modernists is their movement awayfrom any praxiological intent toward theoretical endeavours: a position that Callinicos sees asan abrogation of moral responsibilities. This movement toward theory was partly necessitatedby the various post-structuralist critiques of marxist theory that emerged during the late 1 960sand 1 970s. In particular, marxist meta-theory was attacked vigorously for its reductionist,essentialist, determinist and structuralist ontologies. The ensuing in-house debates, coupled withrapid changes in the global political-economy and the rise of diverse social movements, caststill more doubt over the ability of marxist meta-theory to explain contemporary phenomena.67 From this definition my use of the term “epistemological post-modernism” should be apparent. Unlikesubversive or nihilistic post-modernism, epistemological post-modernism is not adverse to “truth” claims orfoundationalist propositions but, in fact, looks for such systemic properties in order to explain the configurationsin social, political and economic life.Page 105The result, however, has been a theoretical reformulation of marxist theory through criticalepistemological and ontological debates. Post-marxists have been at the forefront of these retheorizations, attempting a continuation of marxist and critical theoretic traditions, but via newtheoretical forms.68 Subsequently, as Raymond Morrow has pointed out, the theoretical projectof post-marxism was re-conceived as a fourfold project;to regain a sense of the empirical importance of economic structures and statemediation, without relapsing into instrumentalist or structuralist reductionism;to develop a theory of cultural struggle which challenges static conceptions ofhegemony and domination; to articulate a theory of cultural forms which coulddraw upon advances in semiotic theories of communication; and to provide anapproach to the subject which preserved the agency structure dialectic andincorporated a theory of resistance...[that does not rely on]...expressivistconceptions of totality and related understandings of ideology andsubjectivity.69Epistemological post-modernists, then, attempt to integrate into their theoretical conduita theory of cultural forms and aesthetics, while shedding the reductionism and structuralismof marxist theory. For Perry Anderson, this was a reactive project illustrative of how thefortunes “of theoretical work on the left” are inversely related to “the fortunes of left-wing68 For example, see the debates in; Laclau, E., & Mouffe, C., (1987), “Post-Marxism without Apologies,” NewLeft Review, No.166, November-December, pp.79-106. Mouzelis, N., (1988), “Marxism or Post-Marxism?,” NewLeft Review, No.167, January-February, pp.107-123, Chilcote, E.B., & Chilcote, R.H., (1992), “The Crisis ofMarxism: An Appraisal of New Directions,” Rethinking Marxism, Vol.5,No.2, Summer, pp.84-106, Szymanski,A., (1985), “Crisis and Vitalization in Marxist Theory,” Science and Society, Vol.49,no.3, Fall, pp.315-331,Kumar, A., (1990), “Towards Postmodern Marxist Theory: Ideology, State, and the Politics of Critique,”Rethinking Marxism, Vol.3,Nos.3-4, Fall-Winter, pp.149-155, Graham, J., (1991), “Fordism/Post-Fordism,Marxism/Post-Marxism: The Second Cultural Divide?,” Rethinking Marxism, Vol.4,No. 1, Spring, pp.39-58.Callinicos, A., (1985), “Postmodernism, Post-Structuralism, Post-Marxism?,” Theory, Culture & Society,Vol.2,No.3, pp.85-101.69 Morrow, R.A., (1991), op.cit, p.36. On the “crisis” in Marxism see Linday, J., (1981), The Crisis inMarxism. Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire: Moonraker Press.Page 106politics” at large.7° Indeed, Callinicos was correct to suppose that epistemological post-modernism was born from the failure of left radicalism of the “1968 generation.”71Those veryconditions which made for a crisis in Left-wing politics were, in retrospect, the making ofLeftist theory, channelling creative energies toward theoretical innovation and an interrogationof hitherto dominant narratives. Consequently, as Laclau and Mouffe have observed;Left-wing thought today stands at a crossroads. The “evident truths” of thepast — the classical forms of analysis and political calculation, the nature of theforces in conflict, the very meaning of the Left’s struggles and objectives—-havebeen seriously challenged... [A] question-mark has fallen more and more heavilyover a whole way of conceiving both socialism and the roads that should leadto it.72Critical thinking has been transformed. The simple slogans of “class struggle” andrevolutionary emancipation, have given way to more complex theoretical undertakings thatchallenge notions of patriarchy, gender, linguistics, science and power. The patriarchal elitismof an all male vanguard leading male workers from the factories to freedom, is now understoodas both hollow and just another form of domination: the sweatshops erected in Soviet Russiain the name of socialism, for example, were no different from those during the English° Perry Anderson as quoted in Norris, C., (1990), What’s Wrong With Postmodernism: Critical Theory andthe Ends ofPhilosophy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, p.1. Moishe Gonzales is even more scathingin his assessment of cultural theory and post-modernism, seeing critical theory the product of “[fjrustrated radicalswho have managed, over the last 20 years of chaotic growth and revolutionary restructuring of higher education,to translate their...[revolutionary rhetoric]...only into tenured academic positions.” Critical theory, for Gonzalesat least, is arm chair theorising, suitably de-radicalized by now well heeled and tenured academics. Gonzales, M.,(1984-85), “Kellner’s Critical Theory: A Reassessment,” Telos, No.62, pp.206-10.‘ The developmental image of French philosophy, the impact of French radicalism and its culmination in theMay, 1968 uprisings, and of their influence on post-structuralist and post-modernist philosophy, is traced in Ferry,L., & Renaut, A., (1990), French Philosophy of the Sixties: An Essay on Antihumanism. (Mary SchnackenbergCattani: Trans.), Antherst: The University of Massachusetts Press.72 Laclau, E., & Mouffe, C., (1985) Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. (.Winston Moore & Paul Canimack:Trans.), London: Verso, p.1.Page 107industrial revolution. This does much to explain the current character of Leftist post-moderntheory that, by and large, has championed the politics of “inclusion.” Totalizing meta-narrativesconferring ontological centrality on certain key groups (the white-male working class, forexample), have been abandoned in recognition of the “proliferation” of social movements thatnow constitute the spectrum of left politics (feminists, ethnic and religious minorities, sexualminorities, ecological activists, human rights activists, the disabled, etc.).Despite Callinicos’ conclusions, then, epistemological post-modernists remain faithfulto classical varieties of critical thought, but extend their purview to cultural and linguisticforms of analysis. The result is a more eclectic and less centred critical theory that assaults notjust the practices of capitalism but the entire modernist edifice that valorizes such practices(cultural practices, aesthetics, patriarchy, etc.).73 This is the sense in which Zygmunt Baumanconceives of post-modernism; “modernity conscious of its true nature” and reactive to its“diseased state,” particularly universalizing meta-narratives exclusionary ofmarginal voices andthe suffocating mental straitjacket of scientific logic. The political compass of epistemologicalpost-modernism is thus inclusionary, and “marked by a view of the human world as irreduciblyand irrevocably pluralistic, split into a multitude of sovereign units and sites of authority, withno horizontal or vertical order.”74 Consequently, contemporary critical theory abandons thepretensions of objectivity and refutes the existence of a realm of residual “truth” and“meaning.” Instead, the post-modern enterprise;The shift in critical theory from its more economistic moments to its current concerns with culture,aesthetics, art, and representation, is addressed by Anderson, P., (1990), “A Culture in Counterfiow — II,” NewLeft Review, No.182, July/August, pp.85-138.Bauman, Z., (1992), Intimations ofPostmodernity. London: Routledge, pp.187-188. See also Bauman, Z.,(1988), “Is There a Postmodern Sociology,” Theory, Culture and Society, Vol.5.Nos.2-3, pp.217-237.Page 108• . .reveals the world as composed of an indefinite number of meaning-generatingagencies, all relatively self-sustained and autonomous, all subject to their ownrespective logics and armed with their own facilities of truth-validation.This position implicitly defines the relationship of epistemological post-modernists toradical politics, for they challenge the precepts of modernist discourse that, through “objective”and “universal” standards, inscribes inequality; the distinction between mass culture and theavant-garde, for example, the hierarchies of class and meritocratic practices, or the valuepatterns that reify science over the humanities, men over women and facts over values. Andit is these themes that feed directly into the epistemic motifs of subversive post-modernists andlead to the practices of deconstruction.Post-modernism as SubversionSubversive post-modernists attempt to dismantle these value-hierarchies, and beliefs thatuniversalization can bestow justice through instrumental rationality.76 They do so through thepolitics of inclusion, or in more radical contexts, through deconstructing logo-centric practices,binary logic and the presumption that we can speak for the marginalized (other). Thesedeconstructive practices I have attributed to subversive post-modernists since they attempt todismantle Organonist knowledge systems that, by and large, have been the hallmark of theWestern intellectual tradition.77 The champion of the American post-modern movement, Ihabibid.76 Contrary to my position, Bryan Turner argues that the relationship of post-modem theory to radical politicsis problematic depending on how one views the modemist project and its relationship to traditionalism. SeeTurner, B.S., (1990), op.cit, p.10.The term Organonist I use derivatively from the Greek word Organon; referring to the body of writingsby Aristotle of the same title. Aristotle used the word to refer to a process or series of steps leading towardknowledge, particularly the “problem of knowledge: what is it, how it is acquired, how it is guaranteed to be true,how expanded and systematized.” Aristotle’s Organon, then, developed a system of reasoning or logic as aninstrument of thought which became the basis of the Western intellectual tradition and valorized in “reason” andPage 109Hassen, for example, argues that the intent of subversive post-modernists is the destruction ofthe Western cogito:It is an antinomian moment that assumes a vast unmasking of the Westernmind —what Michel Foucault might call a postmodern episteme. I say“unmasking” though other terms are now de rigeur: for instance, deconstruction,decentring, disappearance, dissemination, demystification, discontinuity,djfference, dispersion, etc. Such terms express an ontological rejection of thetraditional full subject, the cogito of Western philosophy. They express, too, anepistemological obsession with fragments or fractures, and a correspondingideological commitment to minorities.. .To think well, to feel well, to act well,to read well, according to this episteme of unmasking, is to refuse the tyrannyof wholes; totalization in any human endeavour is potentially totaljtarian.78This project attempts an “explosion of the modern episteme, in whichreason.. [is].. .blown to pieces.”79 Consequently, the entire modernist edifice that is valorizedby reason and rationalist discourse is challenged. Subversive post-modernists, for example,celebrate difference, discursive practices, and repudiate ideas of universal truth claims,rationality, or representationalism. Rather, the world is seen from a relativist position, with nosingle arbiter or knowledge system able to judge between truth claims. This assaults modernisttheory and destabilises the idea of logic and reason as the road to truth, fact, knowledge, andultimately to certitude in our understanding of the physical and social worlds. Faith in scienceand theory-knowledge is eroded. For subversive post-modernists, truth is in the eye of the“logic.” See Tendennick, H., & Forster, E.S., (193 8)(eds.), Aristotle: Organon. London: William Heinemann.78 As quoted in Weilmer, A., (1985), “On The Dialectic of Modernism and Postmodemism,” PraxisInternational, Vol.4,No.4, January, p.338.‘ ibid.Page 110beholder, not the test tube of a scientist, the theory of a mathematician, or the methodology ofrational argument.8°This extreme position is evident in the unruly mixture of Continental post-structuralismand American philosophical pragmatism that emerged throughout the 1 980s. Richard Bernsteinnotes that this made for an era filled with “suspicion” towards “reason, and of the very ideaof universal validity claims that can be justified through argument.” The entire Enlightenmentproject and its legacy have come under attack, where in post-modernist circles there is a “rageagainst humanism” and a movement seeking the “delegitimation” of “European modernity.”8’David Harvey maintains that this movement seeks an end to the age of reason, and rejects “anyproject that...[seeks]...universal human emancipation through mobilization of the powers oftechnology, science and reason.”82 For subversive post-modernists, these modernist referentsare not the agents of liberation, but things to be liberated from.The deconstruction of modernist discourse, logic, and reason, are thus the majoroccupations of subversive post-modernists. Richard Rorty attributes these deconstructivepractices to the “Cartesian-Kantian” traditions of philosophy. These, Rorty argues, “attemptedto escape from history” by externalizing and objectifying reality in order to erect a80 Ryan, M., (1988), “Postmodern Politics,” Theory, Culture and Society, Vol.5,Nos,2-3, June, p.559.Rabinow, P., & Sullivan, W.M., (1979), Interpretive Social Science: A Reader. Berkeley: University of CaliforniaPress, p.1.81 Bernstein, R., (1988), “Introduction,” in Bernstein, R., (ed.), Habermas and Modernity. Cambridge,Massachusetts: MIT Press, p.25. Wellmer, A., (1985), op.cit, p.341.82 Harvey, D., (1991), The Condition of Postmodernity. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Basil Blackwell, p.41.See also the article by Bernstein, R.J., (1986), “The Rage Against Reason,” Philosophy and Literature, Vol.10,pp.186-210. See also the excellent collection of essays in Hollis, M., & Lukes, S., (1982)(eds.), Rationality andRelativism. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Page 111foundationalist transhistorical knowledge.83 Antithetic to this tradition, post-modernists haverediscovered contextualism and, like Dewey, Wittgenstein, and Heidegger before them, attemptto teach a “historicist” lesson: that knowledge in all forms and varieties is contaminated by thelanguage used to describe it, by ideology, by historical milieu and culture.84 Modernistnarratives of the universal and transhistorical genre are, accordingly, rejected. Lyotard, forinstance, argues that we can no longer “organize the multitude of events that come to us fromthe world.. .by subsuming them beneath the idea of a universal history of humanity.”85Totalizing narratives not only exclude marginal voices but they also assume the ontologicalcentrality of certain groups, creating a theoretical exclusivity in the way specific groups aremade the targets of emancipation or the objects of narratives. 86 Feminists, for example, pointout that the history of humankind has been told as the history of “Mankind,” North AmericanIndians that “American history” has only narrated the history of white European settlement of“un-occupied” lands, and peoples of the Southern Hemisphere, that so called “World history”has been told from the perspective of eurocentric narratives of European expansionism andcolonization. Modernist theory is therefore charged with becoming overly myopic, where theexclusivity of theoretical categories like working class or white males, for example, becomethe sine qua non for “justice” and “liberation,” or the privileged subjects of historical83 Rorty, R., (1980), op.cit, pp.9-13. See also Margolis, J., (1986), Pragmatism Without Foundations:Reconciling Realism and Relativism. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.84 Trimbur, J., & Holt, M., (1992), “Richard Rorty: Philosophy Without Foundations,” in Sills, C., & Jensen,G.H., (eds.), The Philosophy of Discourse: The Rhetorical Turn in Twentieth-Century Thought. Volume 1,Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann Books, p.73.85 Lyotard, J.F., (1989), The Lyotard Reader. (Andrew Benjamin, ed.), Oxford: Basil Blackwell, p.314.86 This, indeed, is a central theme not only in the work of Lyotard but, more obviously, Michel Foucault. SeeFoucault, M., (1984), The Foucault Reader. (Paul Rabinow, ed.), New York: Pantheon, pp.32-75, 239-256.Page 112narratives.87 The project of subversive post-modernists has thus been to deconstructprivileged representations, totalizing emancipatory projects and meta-discourses. Instead, theyhave championed discontinuities and sought to include otherwise marginalized voices inmultifarious discourses that are tempered through relativity in language, interpretation, cultureand history. Post-modern theory thus becomes “the infmite task of complexification” and not,as with modernist theory, a process of simplification and meta-theoretic generalization.88Universalism is abandoned for particularism, macro-theory for micro-theory and micro-politics,and the dimensional referent of time (history) is now interspersed with place and space toemphasise complexity and contextuality.89Contextuality, particularism and relativism, become the analytic nostrums that separatethe grand designs of modernist discourse from the specificities of post-structuralism. This hasenormous consequences for the way post-modernists engage in, utilize, and understand the aimsof theoretical activity, and in the way they conceive of, and explain, for example, the workingsof power, capitalism, oppression, or emancipation. Unlike the structural monism of muchmarxist and neo-marxist literature, post-modernists view the modalities of power andoppression as intricate, localized and divergent. Michel Foucault, for instance, combined a poststructuralist account of power and oppression with a post-modernist critique of rationality andscience, and abandoned grand narratives for particularistic historical genealogies. Unlike his87 A category, incidentally, that post-modernists often see the preserve of “white males”, exclusionary ofethnic, religious, linguistic minorities and women, etc.Holub, R.C., (1991), Jurgen Habermas: Critic in the Public Sphere. London: Routledge, p.143. Wellmer,A., (1985), op.cit, p.339.Best, S., & Keilner, D., (1991), op.cit, p.4. On the emergence of a spatial dialectic see Soja, E.W., (1990),Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. London: Verso.Page 113structuralist predecessors, Foucault depicted power as “irreducibly plural,” thriving at themicrocosmic levels of society. And grappling with the “modalities of power” and discoursepolitics, he argued, was the problem that had “to be solved.”90 Foucault’s work, then, was anattempt at understanding the “political status of science and the ideological functions which itcould serve.”9’And his historical genealogical documentaries were extensions of this project;attempts at demonstrating “how objectifying forms of reason (and their regimes of truth andknowledge) have been made:” that, in fact, they are historically contingent rather than naturallyinscribed.92 His genealogical accounts of power in the prison and asylum, for example, reoriented political theory away from an a priori assumption of its imposition, to a preciseaccount of how “power” is made, matures, and infects. This is theory from the bottom up;genealogical, meticulous, and incisive of the workings of power in institutional, societal andindividual bodies. So too, it is subversive, both in its political ambitions and its implicationsfor modernist theory, seeing “truth” and “knowledge” as socially constructed and performativeof oppressive tasks. This is what Lyotard meant when he wrote of the “terror of theory;” theoryused as power, “knowledge” used to oppress, “truth” used for legitimation.9390 Foucault, M., & Kritzman, L.D., (1988), Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings,1977-1984. (Lawrence D. Kritzman: Trans.), New York: Routledge, p.104. Despite this statement, Foucault wasat pains to point out later in his work that his project was not concerned with the “phenomena of power,” butrather, he wrote, “[m]y objective, instead, has been to create a history of the different modes by which, in ourculture, human beings are made subjects. My work has dealt with three modes of objectification which transformhuman beings into subjects.” See Foucault, M., (1984), “The Subject and Power,” in Wallis, B., (ed.), Art AfterModernism: Rethinking Representation. New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art & David R. Godine,p.417.91 Foucault, M., (1984), op.cit, p.51. See also, Foucault, M., (1980), Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviewsand Other Writings, 1972-1977. (Cohn Gordon, et a!, Trans., ed.), Brighton, England: Harvester Press.92 Best, S., & Kellner, D., (1991), op.cit, p.57.Lyotard as quoted in Hebdige, D., (1988), op.cit, p.199.Page 114Given this conception of theory, it is hardly surprising that faith in theory-knowledgehas been eroded and its deconstruction sought, principally through linguistic analyses and thepejorative use of language games. Indeed, language has proven the ultimate weapon forsubversive post-modernists, enabling the “destabilization” of the very nexus of representationand communication that otherwise makes theory-knowledge possible. Consequently, theoryitself is now problematized by subversive post-modernists, as textural analysis acquires apolitical utility in its demolition of modernist theories of representation.94This demolition has proceeded along two avenues. First, subversive post-modernistshave inverted the classical subject-object divide upon which modernist-scientific enquiryproceeded to represent “reality;” a simple process of problematizing the role of the subject asneutral and of the a priori existence of the object (reality). As Michael Ryan notes, the post-modern movement has discovered “that what were thought to be effects in the classical theoryof representation can be causes; representations can create the substance they supposedlyreflect.”95 In other words, the observatory act is no longer considered neutral but proactive,which, for post-modernists, inevitably changes the significance and political capacity of theory.Secondly, assumptions of communicative rationality have been challenged bydestabilising language and attacking the possibility of accurate representation andcommunication. Modernists like Habermas, for example, insist upon the fixity of meaning inlanguage and upon “communicative rationality,” where speaker and hearer are rationallyRyan, R., (1988), op.cit, p.560.ibid.Page 115committed to the task of reciprocal understanding.96 Similarly, Robert Brandom argues that“the essential feature of language is its capacity to represent the way things are,” to “take truthto be the basic concept in terms of which a theory of meaning, and hence a theory of language,is to be developed.”97 Subversive post-modernists, however, reject this and see language associally constructed, at best a partial and imperfect intermediary between subjects. Languageis unstable: “no statement ever has a determinate meaning,” no word a fixed denotation, allreferents are transient, and meaning is an interpretive enterprise that varies from subject tosubject.98 The “authorial point of view,” for deconstructionists, cannot be related to readers,since text and subject are not as one but separate, and the act of reading, as of writing, is anintertextual and intersubjective process that is multi-layered and unique to each text andreader.99 As Harvey notes; “[winters who create texts or use words do so on the basis of allother texts and words they have encountered, while readers deal with them in the same way.”Acts of reading and writing become a “series of texts intersecting with other texts, producingmore texts,” such that this “intertextual weaving” takes on “a life of its own.”10° The “post-modern condition,” then, is one where universal language is dead and sites of specializedlanguages have emerged; the university, the workplace, the bureaucracy, so that “effective96 Holub, R.C., (1991), op.cit, p.135. Harvey, D., (1991), op.cit, p.52. See also, Habermas, J., (1984), TheTheory of Communicative Action. (Thomas Mccarthy: Trans.), Boston: Beacon Press.As quoted in Rorty, R., (1991), Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth. Philosophical Papers, Volume 1, NewYork: Cambridge University Press, p.15!.As quoted in Donougho, M., (1992), “The Derridean Turn,” in Sills, C., & Jensen, G.H., (eds.), ThePhilosophy of Discourse: The Rhetorical Turn in Twentieth-Century Thought. Volume 2, Portsmouth, NewHampshire: Heinemann, p.71.Rose, M., (1992), op.cit, p.41.‘°° Harvey, D., (1991), op.cit, p.49.Page 116communication” can never be guaranteed and “radical misunderstanding” results)°1 A crisisof representation ensues.Subversive post-modem theory, thus;provides a critique of representation and the modern belief that theory mirrorsreality, taking instead “perspectivist” and “relativist” positions that theories atbest provide partial perspectives on their objects, and that all cognitiverepresentations of the world are historically and linguistically mediated.’°2In North America this position is best exemplified in the work of Richard Rorty, whereknowledge approaches what Rorty calls a “post-philosophical culture;” a post-representationalview of knowledge that is propositional and non-foundationalist. 103 Knowledge, particularlythat type of knowledge generated in the social sciences and humanities, is not approached asa confrontation between the “knowing subject and the object of inquiry”(knowledge simplyseen as the mirror of nature, for example), but as an ongoing conversation between “knowingsubjects.” In other words, knowledge is rooted in a socially constructed discourse, and attemptsto move beyond this, as with the Cartesian-Kantian traditions of inquiry that established“Western philosophy-as-epistemology,” are fallacious)04101 Norris, C., (1986), “Deconstruction Against Itself: Derrida and Nietzsche,: Diacritics, Vol. 16,No.4, Winter,p.63.102 Best, S., & Keilner, D., (1991), op.cit, p.4.103 An excellent account of Rorty’s position, particularly his mixture of post-structuralism and philosophicpragmatism, is found in Richard Wolin’s chapter entitled, “Recontextualizing Neopragmatism: The PoliticalImplications of Richard Rorty’s Antifoundationalism”. See Wolin, R., (1992), The Terms of Cultural Criticism:The Frankfurt School, Existentialism, Poststructuralism. New York: Columbia University Press, pp.149-169.104 Trimbur, J., & Holt, M., (1992), op.cit, pp.80-83. Rorty, R., (1980), op.cit, pp.158-159,163. See also,Rorty, R., (1982), Consequences ofPragmatism: Essays 1972-1980. Minneapolis: University ofMinnesota Press,pp.3-18. Notice that Rortyean post-modernism does not eschew rationality or logic, but embraces it as a meansof conversation and a yard-stick by which participants in the conversation engage in on-going enquiry, discourse,rebuttal, and the generation of new theory-knowledge. In fairness to Rorty, this position distinguishes him formthe more virulent subversive post-modernists of the Continental school — a position that Rorty, himself, is keento point out, calling his variety of post-modernism “Postmodernist Bourgeois Liberalism”. See Rorty, R., (1983),Page 117The abandonment of accurate representation “as the touchstone of knowledge” is, to saythe least, “unsettling,” repudiating the modernist habit of assuming a realm of “reality” and“truth” outside the subject and our language. Post-modernists ask us to rely on a theory-knowledge generated merely by chatting “away in a post-Wittgensteinian room whose mirrorsreflect nothing but the lost contexts of...[our]...own good sense.”°5 As Trimbur and Holtobserve;To imagine human culture and the quest for knowledge as a conversationbetween persons instead of a confrontation with reality may appear to lock usin a “prison house of language,” a hermeneutic circle that offers no release, nostandpoint to get outside our discursive practices in order to show how thingsreally are.’°6Subversive post-modernists, however, dismiss these concerns. In the writings ofDerrida,for example, we find a deeper malcontent and a resolve to slay the “Hydra of Westernlogocentrism.”107 Derrida’ s deconstructionist project aims to “desediment,” “uproot,”“decompose,” “undo,” “dismantle,” and “overturn” Western metaphysics through textualanalyses of philosophical writings.108 The aim is not, it should be noted, a complete dismissal“Postmodemist Bourgeois Liberalism,” Journal of Philosophy, Vol.87.105 O’Neill, J., (1990), op.cit, p.78.106 Trimbur, J., & Holt, M., (1992), op.cit, p.81.107 Logocentrism is inter-changeably used with Western metaphysics, denoting the tendency in Westernrationality to think in terms of “dialectics” and “binary oppositions.” Thus, the penchant to establish binaryopposites as in hierarchy/anarchy, positive/negative, present/absent, etc., is representative of logocentric practicesthat, notes Jonathan Culler, “assumes the priority of the first term and conceives the second in relation to it.”More importantly, though, logocentric practices establish value patterns, where the first term, the logos, as inhierarchy, for example, is seen as superior to its binary equivalent anarchy. See the discussion in Culler, J., (1982), On Deconstructionism. New York, Ithica: Cornell University Press, p.93. See also, Rorty, R., (1991),Essays on Heidegger and Others: Philosophical Papers. Volume II, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,pp.107-118.108 Mccarthy, T., (1989-90), “The Politics of the Ineffable: Derrida’s Deconstructionism,” The PhilosophicalForum. Vol.21,Nos.1-2, Fall-Winter, p.153, Donougho, M., (1992), op.cit, p.71.Page 118of Western rationalism, since Derrida recognizes this to be impossible, but an attempt “totransform [such concepts], to displace them, to turn them against their presuppositions, toreinscribe them in other chains, and little by little to modify the terrain of our work and therebyto produce new configurations.” Derrida hopes this will coalesce into a “structure of resistance”to the dominant mode of conceptuality which, to date, under the auspices of Enlightenmentthinking, has led to the violence of exclusion, in which certain groups, peoples, voices,thoughts, and modes of conceptualization have been marginalized, exiled, anddisenfranchised. 109The defining moment for subversive post-modernists obviously rests in the political actthey recommend: resistance. The politics of negation dominates their agenda, particularly thewant to tear down the modernist edifice and subvert its practices. However, subversive post-modernists are not consistent in this project but contradictory, pragmatic and opportunistic. AsPauline Rosenau notes, post-modernists are not “concerned with categorical epistemologicalrigor or total coherence,” and “relinquish intellectual consistency in exchange for politicalrelevance.” Witness, for example, the way subversive post-modernists portend to be avowedlyanti-theoretical; a position which is not only deduced from theoretical activity but presentedas part of a theoretical discourse and comprised of theoretical As Norrissardonically observes, the act of theoretical negation is itself a “form of theoretical endeavour,including such attempts to discredit other kinds of theory while smuggling one’s own back in,109 Derrida as quoted in Mccarthy, T., (1989-90), op.cit, p.147.110 Rosenau, P.M., (1992), op.cit, p.175.Page 119so to speak, by the side entrance.”111 Indeed, many of the charges laid against modernisttheory seem somewhat futile since they also implicate post-modernists in similar theoreticalcrimes. For example, to denounce “truth” claims or foundationalist theory and epistemologicalphilosophy, is an inherently foundationalist position presupposing some singular and superiorinsight beyond modernist understanding; dare one say an appeal to a higher realm of “truth”and a better conception of the “good”? Similarly, denouncing reason and logic while engagingin a meticulous discourse that is well reasoned, logically rigorous and cumulative in its critique,suggests the very use of those tools they attempt to destroy. Further, by attacking valuehierarchies subversive post-modernists champion the cause of the “oppressed,” “marginalized,”and the “disempowered,” displaying a keen awareness of “right” from “wrong,” “good” from“bad” and a zealous pre-occupation with such modernist themes as “social justice,”“emancipation” and ‘liberation”12 And if, as subversive post-modernists insist, language isimprecise, effective communication is impossible, and culture is running down toward allegoricilliteracy amid a simulacra of electronic images, it seems highly unusual for so much effort tobe placed on the enunciation of post-modernist theory and its communication through languageand the written word; writing and reading for subversive post-modernists should surely be abarren and improbable task. Why, we might ask, do post-modernists feel the need toNorris, C., (1988), Deconstruction and the Interests of Theory. London: Pinter, p.147.112 Of these themes, particularly the move towards inclusivity of marginal groups, Bryan Turner notes thecorollary of post-modernism with liberalism: “the postmodern critique of hierarchy, grand narratives, unitarynotions of authority, or the bureaucratic imposition of official values has a certain parallel with the principles oftoleration of difference in the liberal tradition.” Perhaps, then, we are dealing with a radicalized liberalism ratherthan a fundamentally new theoretical lexicon. See Turner, B., (1990), op.cit, p.11.Page 120deconstruct modernist knowledge systems if language is so imprecise and communication soineffective?Contradictions of this type inflame the passions of those who would see an end to post-modernism. Christopher Norris, for example, dismisses post-modernism as quasiposturalpolitical correctness interspersed with “deconstructionist word spinning nonsense.”113 Thissentiment is shared by Eric Hirsch who objects to the “decadence of literary scholarship” andthe debasement of scholarship and language through “anti-rationalism, faddism, and extremerelativism.”4For Hirsch;Scholars are right to feel indignant toward those learned writers who deliberatelyexploit the institutions of scholarship —-even down to its punctilious conventionslike footnotes and quotations — to deny the whole point of the institutions ofscholarship, to deny, that is, the possibility of knowledge. It is ethicallyinconsistent to batten on institutions whose very foundations one attacks. It islogically inconsistent to write scholarly books which argue that there is no pointin writing scholarly books)’5Alex Callinicos attributes this “farcical” and “light-minded playfulness” to a Westernintelligentsia suffering from an “apocalyptic mood” as they confront the end of the millennium.He blames, in particular, two French theorists, Derrida and Foucault, who through stressing thefragmentary, plural and heterogeneous character of reality, have attempted to deny “humanthought the ability to arrive at any objective account of that reality and reduced the bearer ofthis thought, the subject, to an incoherent welter of sub- and trans-individual drives and113 Norris, C., (1990), op.cit, p.147.114 Hirsch, Jr., ED., (1976), The Aims of Interpretation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p.13.115 ibid.Page 121desires)”16 The “success enjoyed” by post-modernists, he concludes, is “quite out ofproportion with any slight intellectual merit their work might have.”7The “success” of post-modern theory seems all the more amazing when one considersits spurious relativism. Derrida and Foucault, for example, both abandon objectivity, embraceperspectivism and relativism and deny the privileging of any one narrative over others. Yet,both these theorists proceed to insist that we should reject modernist for post-modernistnarratives and adopt a post-modern interpretation of the world. This position is no lessabsolutist than the one expounded by their modernist counterparts. As Eric Hirsch observes,for post-modernists “all principles are subject to a universal relativism except relativism itself,”which leads him to ask;But whence comes its exception? What is the sanction, in a world devoid ofabsolutes, for its absoluteness? We are never told. This question, so absurdlysimple, yet so embarrassing to relativism, is never answered by even the mostbrilliant of the cognitive atheists. 118But perhaps this is not the way to judge the agency of post-modern theory and itseffects upon theoretical discourse. We cannot, as is clear from the foregoing, speak of asingular post-modern theory and dismiss all for the shortcomings of one particular strand. AsJameson noted, “no one postmodernist can give us postmodernism.” 119 Rather, I think it bestto assess post-modern theory in terms of its effects on our sensibilities in the era of late-116 Callinicos, A., (1989), op.cit, p.2.117 ibid, p.170.118 Hirsch, Jr., E.D., (1976), op.cit, p.13.9Jameson, F., (1988), “Regarding Postmodemism ——A Conversation with Fredric Jameson,” in Ross, Andrew,(ed.), Universal Abandon: The Politics of Posimodernism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p.27.Page 122modernity; where the modernist referents of science, industry and technology, and faith in theapplication of reason and logic, experience a crisis of confidence; where the modernist projectis now questioned, and where the end of the millennium suffers from malaise. These events,be they real or imagined, allow us to understand the revisionist concerns of subversive post-modernists, the catalogue of technological innovations recorded by technological post-modernists, the search for new understandings by epistemological post-modernists, and thesense of hopelessness and paralysis proffered by nihilistic post-modernists.John O’Neill sees in these concerns the ongoing battle between the division of ourreason; “divided once and for all into the subrationalities of science, art, and ethics.” Yet, henotes, we have not experienced any “settlement in this process.”On the contrary, our science tries to rule our politics and economy, while oureconomy largely dominates our art and morality, if not our science. At theextreme edge, our art and morality try to impose their rule upon our science andpolitical economy — but they generally lack the 120In some ways the post-modernist project is a contribution to understanding thisinterstitial battle between the “subrationalities” of art, science, ethics, politics and economics;a contribution to exploring the human condition and its various constituencies in search of newmeaning and understanding. This project, however, is not dissimilar to the one upon whichthose modernist institutions, the social sciences and humanities, were originally founded. Thus,we should not think of post-modern theory as separate to, distinct from, or outside of, themodernist-Western tradition as some post-modernists insist, but as part of its unfoldinggenealogical tapestry and implicated in its project. What distinguishes subversive post120 O’Neill, J., (1990), op.cit, pp.77-78.Page 123modernists is their revisionist disposition toward modernity: their search for “thinking space”as they reflect on the modernist experience and their willingness to exploit the crisis ofmodernity and contribute to it. There is no constructive endeavour, only a celebration of theloss of certainty, where, argues John O’Neill, “men (sic) are no longer sure of their rulingknowledge and are unable to mobilize sufficient legitimation for the master-narratives of truthand justice.” By relativizing all that is offered as knowledge and theory, subversive post-modernists rejoice in the loss of “authority” that hitherto marked modernist institutions.12’In other varieties, however, technological post-modernism might well prove a vehicle for notonly alerting us to sweeping change, but of theorizing its objective effects upon our social,economic and political institutions and for remaking a new social science cognizant of post-modern dynamics. Or, in the case of epistemological post-modernism, we might understand itas an avenue for conceptualizing the heightened engagement between cultural and aestheticsensibilities and their incorporation into commodity production.To what end these approaches will prove useful, however, to what end their concernsand depictions of current realities prove accurate, remains problematic. What does seemobvious, though, is the continuing desire for understanding, the need to examine, comprehend,and make sense of events and, consequently, the need for theoretical endeavour. Despitenihilistic despair or charges of epochal change, most of us will wake up tomorrow confrontedby a world much the same as today, one that experiences the recurring problems of inequality,production and consumption, distributive justice, war and peace, violence and conflict. Variousproblems will emerge and solutions to them will be sought. These, surely, cannot be121 ibid, p.78.Page 124deconstructed, only “reinscribed” as new questions. And while we might problematize currentknowledge and interpretations, question our faith in science, reason and logic, or reinscribequestions in new contexts, to suppose these endeavours contrary to the activity of theory andthe search for meaning and understanding is plainly absurd. If we abandon the principles oflogic and reason, dump the yardsticks of objectivity and assessment, and succumb to a blindrelativism that privileges no one narrative or understanding over others, how do we tackle suchproblems or assess the merits of one solution vis a vis another? How do we go about theactivity of living, making decisions, engaging in trade, deciding on social rules or making laws,if objective criteria are not to be employed and reason and logic abandoned? How would weconstruct research programs, delimit areas of inquiry or define problems to be studied, if weabandoned rationalist tools of inquiry?These are awkward questions rarely asked of post-modernists. In fact, post-moderntheory has enjoyed a certain aloofness in the social sciences and humanities, often shelteredfrom critical analysis because of its obtuse language and ethereal forms of representation. Ithas enjoyed the luxury of evolving in isolation, insulated from contending perspectives and theprobing critical analyses usually afforded orthodox theories. In some ways this has beenintentional. Post-modernists have deliberately tried to distance themselves from orthodoxscholarship and, through their confrontationalist and aggressive styles, have managed to subdueopposition that would otherwise be vocal. Orthodox theorists, confused both by post-modernistnomenclature and their discursive styles, have been defensive and reticent to analyzesystematically post-modern theory. Dialogue between these two schools has, at best, beenPage 125mute.’22 And while this might reflect the unwillingness of post-modernists to respond tocriticism, it also reflects the brevity of criticism to come from orthodox theorists, many ofwhom are plainly on the defensive. We should not be surprised at this. Rarely have modernistsknown how to respond to allegations that implicate them and the “age of reason” in massslaughter and genocide, the active marginalization ofminority groups, the oppression ofwomenand non-whites, the disfiguration of the environment, the brain-washing of subjects into prespecified modes of conceptualization that serve instrumentalist purposes, and the degradationof knowledge and universities to proactive instruments of social control and legitimation. Muchof the post-modernist conduit along with these extraordinary allegations have simply beendismissed as “politics from the fringe.” Few have seen the need to oppose post-modern theory,most have left it alone in the hope it might go away, and nearly all have been baffled andintimidated by its imperceptible vernacular. The lack of vigilance or, more precisely, thesurrender of conventional standards of appraisal, have enabled post-modernists to infiltratenearly “every imaginable theoretical discussion.”23 International political theory has been noexception. And of those who have tried to resist the post-modernist tide, the cult of politicalcorrectness accompanying it stigmatises its detractors as vagabonds of reason andoppression.’24 The “terror of theory,” it seems, is also used in the service of post-modernism.122 Spike Peterson, V., (1992), “Transgressing Boundaries: Theories of Knowledge, Gender and InternationalRelations,” Millennium, Vol.21 ,No.2, Summer, p.1 84.123 Callinicos, A., (1989), op.cit, p.1.124 The cult of “political correctness,” especially as it relates to the university, is eloquently told in two essaysby Allan Bloom entitled; “The Crisis of Liberal Education,” and “The Democratization of the University,” inBloom, A., (1990), Giants and Dwarfs: Essays 1960-1990. New York: Simon & Schuster.Page 126However, before we pronounce the death of the “age of reason” and surrender ourselvesto post-modern theory, it would, at the very least, be judicious to examine critically itsimplications and utility. In the context of this thesis, I for one am not prepared to make themighty jump from modernist to post-modernist theory without first understanding what sucha move would mean for international political theory and the discipline of InternationalRelations. Yet, I also appreciate the sense of change and disjuncture that permeates all facetsof our social existence and, ostensibly, changes the nature of global politics. The task thatremains therefore is to understand these two events, see if they share any relation, understandtheir implications, and assess their desirability.ConclusionIn this chapter I undertook the daunting task of “making sense” of post-modern theoryby developing a series of thematic ideal types. I do not pretend to have been comprehensivein this task since post-modern theory has too wide and too voluminous a literature to possiblydo it justice. Instead, I have identified some of the dominant themes and issues among post-modernists and offered some rudimentary discussion as to their respective “projects.” Theobject has been one of taxonomy and classification in order to simplify the generic “postmodern” into specific categories that can be dissected and analyzed. The chapter has thereforebeen prefatory to the primary task of this thesis: namely, an exegetic analysis of post-moderninternational political theorists and an assessment of the merits of a post-modernist approachto international politics. In the following chapters the classifications developed here will actimplicitly as tools of appraisal. So too will they be used to categorise the increasing array ofpost-modernist approaches in international politics. More immediately, however, I employ themPage 127in the following two chapters to construct a critical genealogical account of the developmentof post-modernist thinking among the disciplines leading “dissidents.”1r‘IntroductionMuch as political theory is now “haunted” by the “spectre” of the “dissident,” so too isinternational political theory. Intellectual “dissidents” now comprise a significant number oftheorists in the discipline. Their work, although not as widely read as the ubiquitous rehearsalsof neorealism, is certainly infamous. “Dissident” writings now commonly feature in graduatereading courses and are the subject matter of an increasing number of scholarly books, articles,conference papers and doctoral dissertations. In the space of only a decade, the study ofinternational relations has “come under the influence of continental philosophical andintellectual practices;” belatedly for some, and unfortunately for others.’ Where previously thestudy of international relations was the preserve of positivist — and empiricist — basedpedagogical practices, theoretical debate now slides between affirmations of Kuhnian theoriesof knowledge development and intertextualism, as well as feminist psychoanalytic theory,semiotics, genealogy, and deconstructionism. And while many wait for this “fad” to pass andsome semblance of normalcy to return to the activity of theory, the “salon lizards of theory”as Bowers describes them, “are yet to move en masse to any newer, more attractive fad.”Despite the “devout hopes of many cynics, the allure of postmodernism and the problems thatare attendant upon this term and its cognates—postmodernity, postmodern, ‘postie’ —isundiminished.”2James Der Derian & Michael Shapiro, (1989), “Introduction,” in Der Derian, J., & Shapiro, M.J., (eds.),International/Intertextual Relations: Postmodern Readings ofWorld Politics. New York: Lexington Books, p.Ex.2 Bowers, J., (1992), “Postmodernity and the Globalisation of Tecimoscience: The Computer, CognitiveScience and War,” in Doherty, J., Graham, E., & Malek, M., (eds.), Postmodernism and the Social Sciences.London: Macmillan, p.111.Page 129In international political theory the “undiminished” “allure” of post-modernism is plainlyattributable to two theorists, Richard Ashley and, to a lesser extent, Robert Walker.3 Since theearly 1 980s their intellectual contributions have made dissident writings a veritable cottageindustry, such that today few students of international political theory would be unaware of thenew “reflectivist” trend in theorizing. Most distinctive, however, have been the writings ofRichard Ashley. These have not only widened the scope of international political theory buthave also brought seemingly alien concepts and theoretical tools to its study. In particular,Ashley has brought to the discipline constructivist theoretical accounts of the state, politicalpower, the practices of realpolitik, and raised questions of the Enlightenment’s authority overthe construction of knowledge, meaning, identity, and truth. Never before have internationalpolitical theorists been so assaulted by “excursions into metatheory,” especially when the depthof this excursion questioned not only the ontological but also the epistemological and“axiological foundations of their scientific endeavours.”4 Not all have welcomed thisexamination or the subsequent course of debate in the discipline. There is, as Yosef Lapidnotes, those who proscribe “a rigorous philosophy-avoidance strategy” and who warn of theWhile I affix the post-modernist label to the work of Ashley and Walker, it should be noted that, as far asmy readings confinn, Ashley does not use the post-modernist title and identifies himself as a post-structuralist.Moreover, at various points he displays a liking for describing himself as a “critical social theorist,” and at variousother junctures refers to his “critical” technique as “critical social theory.” This, I presume, is intended to establishsome affiliation between his work and the writings and practices of the Frankfurt School of critical social enquiry.If this is the case, however, it is confusing, since the Frankfurt School is surely more attuned to a modernist-rationalist understanding of social practices associated with the work of Georg Lukacs, Max Horkheimer, andmore recently, Herbert Macuse, Jurgen Habermas and Claus Offe. See, for example, the collection of edited worksin Connerton, P., (1976), Critical Sociology. Penguin.Lapid, Y., (1989), “The Third Debate: On the Prospects of International Theory in a Post-Positivist Era,”International Studies Quarterly, Vol.33,No.3, September, p.235.Page 130dangers of pursuing philosophy at the expense of “actual research.”5Robert Keohane, on morethan one occasion, has warned that the “postmodernist project is a dead-end in the study ofinternational relations,” and that it serves no useful purpose to conduct indefmitely “a debateat the purely theoretical level, much less simply to argue about epistemological and ontologicalissues in the abstract.” For Keohane, such debates “would take us away from the study of oursubject matter, world politics, toward what would probably become an intellectually derivativeand programmatically diversionary philosophical discussion.”6Yet “philosophical insurgencies”abound reminding us that “[tihose who try to ignore philosophy only succeed in reinventingit.”7 Ashley can rightly be thought of as a pioneer in this respect, delineating an intellectualspace that, in his own words, exists on the “margins” and “border lines” of the discipline, yetone which now enjoys a considerable following. Indeed, the new-found prominence of theoryin the study of international relations is, in no small part, a consequence of the meta-theoreticalexcursion launched by Ashley. His assault upon neorealism and the shibboleths of reason,logic, positivism, and science, has fulfilled his original calls for;a methodologically more demanding science: a science that expands the rangeof allowable criticism, and sharpens the standards of theoretical adequacy, byinstitutionalizing the expectation of continuous critical reflection on the historicalsignificance and possibility of our attempts to arrive at objectivist conclusions.8ibid, p.236.6 Keohane, R.O., (1989), “International Relations Theory: Contributions of a Feminist Standpoint,”Millennium, Vol.1 8,No.2, p.249, and Keohane, R.O., (1988), “International Institutions: Two Approaches,”International Studies Quarterly, Vol.32,No.4, pp.382.Mario Bunge as quoted in Lapid, Y., (1989), op.cit, pp.235-236. See also, Der Derian, J., (1988),“Introducing Philosophical Traditions in International Relations,” Millennium, Vol.1 7,No.2, p.1 89.8 Ashley, R.K., (1986), “The Poverty of Neorealism,” in Keohane, R.O., (ed.), Neorealism and its Critics.New York: Columbia University Press, p.282.Page 13]In this Ashley has surely “expanded the domain of discourse” and demonstrated “thearbitrariness” of that which is “taken for granted.”9 Yet despite this not inconsiderableachievement his work has rarely been subjected to critical enquiry let alone comprehensiveexegetic analysis. This, to say the least, is unusual given the gravity of Ashley’s writings andtheir implications for the discipline. Of those who have attempted to appraise Ashley’s work,not only are their contributions all too brief, but their number unusually sparse. 10 This mightbe explained by the fact that, as Donna Gregory points out, post-modern thinkers “are moreoften attacked than read.” And when attacked their ideas frequently differ from what their mostardent detractors believe them to be.” With the theoretical stakes so high and the future wellbeing of the discipline at issue, one would have thought the “Third Debate” occasion forproductive interlocutions and diligent attention to the theoretical intricacies of contendingibid, p.284.10 In fact, these contributions can be counted on one hand. As far as I am aware only four short articles havedealt directly with appraising critically Ashley’s contributions. See, for example, the excellent, although brief;discussion in Spegele, R.D., (1992), “Richard Ashley’s Discourse for International Relations,” Millennium,Vol.21 .No.2, Summer, pp.147-182., Roy, R., (1988), “Limits of Genealogical Approach to International Politics,”Alternatives, Vol.13,No.1, pp.77-83. Connolly, W.E., (1989), “Identity and Difference in Global Politics,” in DerDerian, J., & Shapiro, M.J., (eds.), International/Intertextual Relations: Postmodern Readings of World Politics.New York: Lexington Books, pp. 323-342. See also, albeit a rather sympathetic “critique,” Walker, R.B.J., (1988),“Genealogy, Geopolitics and Political Community: Richard K. Ashley and the Critical Social Theory ofInternational Politics,” Alternatives, Vol.13.No.1, pp.84-88. Gilpin, R.G., (1986), “The Richness of the Traditionof Political Realism,” in Keohane, R.O., (ed.), Neorealism and its Critics. New York: Columbia University Press,pp.301-321. And although concerned with a general assessment of the utility of post-modernist approaches tointernational theory, Tony Porter has also addressed Ashley’s contributions to international theory. See, Porter,T., (1994), “Postmodern Political Realism and the Third Debate,” in Sjolander, C.T., & Cox, W.S., (eds.), BeyondPositivism: Critical Reflections on International Relations, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, pp.105-127. A very briefdiscussion is also contained in George, 3., (1994), Discourses of Global Politics: A Critical (Re)Introduction toInternational Relations, Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, pp.171-176.Gregory, D.U., (1989), “Foreword,” in Der Derian, 3., & Shapiro, M.J., (eds.), op.cit, pp.xiii.Page 132approaches.’2 However, this has not been the case. Scholars frequently talk past one another,accepting theoretical incommensurability much as they accept national borders as means ofdemarcation between different value and belief systems. Robert Gilpin can thus largely dismissAshley’s discourse, not in terms of the weaknesses implicit in its postulates, but by virtue “ofthe opacity of much of Ashley’s prose,” the “needless jargon” he employs, and the fact thatGilpin has “no idea what it means.”13 In this way, post-modernist approaches have notprovoked meaningful or enlightening dialogue as much as they have “heat, venom, andnonproductive And when critical appraisals of post-modernist approaches inInternational Relations have been attempted, for James Der Derian most have “arisen as muchfrom confusion and wilful ignorance as from disagreement.” 15 The “Third Debate,” it wouldseem, is no debate at all but a series of discrete theoretical vignettes that occasionally interact(or more correctly collide) if only because of the common disciplinary ocean they begrudginglyshare.The task of this chapter, then, is self-evidently defined; an exegetic analysis of Ashley’swork and a humble contribution to the “Third Debate.” My concern rests exclusively with thework of Richard Ashley,16 not because other theorists are of lesser importance, but because12 See Maghroori, R., & Ramberg, B., (1982), Globalism versus Realism: International Relations ThirdDebate. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. See also, Lapid, Y., (1989), “The Third Debate: On the Prospectsof International Theory in a Post-Positivist Era,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.33,No.3, September,pp.235-254.‘ Gilpin, R.G., (1986), op.cit, p.303.‘ Gregory, D.U., (1989), op.cit, p.xiii.15 Der Derian, J., (1992), Antidiplomacy: Spies, Terror, Speed, and War. Oxford: Blackwell, p.6.16 And where coauthored, with Ashley’s primary intellectual collaborator, Robert Walker.Page 133Ashley is the preeminent and defining voice of a post-modernist perspective in internationalpolitical theory today. My critique, as the provocative title of this chapter suggests, will levelseveral allegations at Ashley’s “project.” First, it will allege intellectual dexterity, by which Imean a schizophrenia, where at various junctures in Ashley’s intellectual development hisproject has been radically changed. In particular, I want to demonstrate that we are not dealingwith one Ashley, but two; in this chapter, a young or “heroic” Ashley who employs criticalsocial theory (here understood as epistemological post-modernism) in a project broadlyconceived as anti-structuralist and emancipatory, and, in chapter five, a “subversive” Ashleywho abandons critical theory for subversive post-modernism and Continental philosophy. 17Or does he? In fact, I shall maintain that Ashley’s use of post-modernism is a ruse for blatantlyideological ends that are revolutionary and subversive. Second, I argue that Ashley’s critiqueof modernist theory and his “post-modernist” rubric is irrationalist and self-contradictory, andif taken literally leads nowhere other than to darkness and nihilism. Third, I will argue thatAshley’s discourse is emblematic of the broader crisis in Marxism and personifies theinheritance of Nietzsche. This, I maintain, is dangerous not in itself but because it tendstowards a value and ethical relativism that eschews from its discourse any means ofestablishing foundational principles upon which to conduct human affairs. More obviously, Iargue that this position is morally abhorrent, for it forsakes a commitment to analyze and17 These two categories, the “heroic” and “subversive” phases, I treat as chronologically discrete, comprisingthe periods between 1980 and 1985 (the “heroic” Ashley), and 1986 to 1995 (the “subversive” Ashley). Thedivision is not arbitrary but occasioned clearly by Ashley’s movement from what I will argue was epistemologicalpost-modernism to subversive post-modernism.IS On this see the excellent discussion by Allan Bloom, (1987), The Closing of the American Mind. Penguin,the chapter entitled, “The Nietzscheanization of the Left or Vice Versa”, pp.217-226.Page 134understand the political-economy of power, oppression, or international affairs, and forsakesthose who it portends to represent, the marginalized, minorities and the oppressed, byostracising them through a highly convoluted, elitist, and partisan discourse. Finally, I arguethat this “orrery of errors”9 is occasioned not by Ashley’s anti-positivism, but by the fact thatAshley is a despondent positivist who desires a foundational knowledge. Contrary to populardepictions, then, I argue that Ashley’s use of post-modernist perspectives betrays a poorunderstanding, radical misinterpretation and misapplication of them. In short, I argue thatAshley has been de(con)structive to the discipline and its theory, taking us further from andnot closer to an understanding of things international.“Reading” Richard Ashley: A Methodological NoteBefore I turn to my analysis, however, I first want to make a few observations about“reading” Richard Ashley. For some, such observations are doubtless peculiar; reading, afterall, is usually understood to be an inductive process individually pursued and in need of littleexplanation. For post-modernists, however, “reading” constitutes a political act; a proactiveprocess of interpretation premised upon individual sites of intertextual and intersubjectiveexperience. Where previously, for example, the subject was understood as a passive receptorof authorial authority, post-modernists now insist that the “reading” subject is a radical site ofintertexts, each one unique. While these contending debates need not concern us here, theimplications of a post-modernist approach most certainly do. For as I shall argue shortly, apost-modernist approach towards the “reading subject” constitutes a subversive political strategy‘ This term I borrow from Ashley who uses it to document the “orrery of errors” implicit in neorealist theory.See Ashley, R.K., (1984), “The Poverty of Neorealism,” in Keohane, R.O., (1986), Neorealism and its Critics.New York: Columbia University Press, p.261.Page 135that, through the facade of interpretivism, pursues ideological ends. 20 The argumentforeshadows my analysis and understanding of Richard Ashley, and suggests that Ashley needsto be “read” in a manner other than he has been if he is to be understood properly. Inparticular, I suggest that Ashley needs to be “read” politically, his writings viewed not so mucha scholarly exercise as a political one. My analysis of Ashley therefore sublimates histheoretical/scholarly compositions beneath his political project, and argues that while afamiliarity with the intricacies of his approach is necessary, more important is an understandingof Ashley’s politics and ideology, since it has been the latter which has conditioned the former.“Reading” Richard Ashley is therefore not only a theoretically challenging task but aninherently confusing one. His writings, while an intellectual treatise, are also a political-ideological exercise writ large, and the reciprocity between these two objectives easily confusesthe prospective reader. Indeed, his work has the ominous propensity of being all things to allpeople. He is, for example, labelled a critical theorist while rejected by critical theorists as apost-modernist. As a post-modernist he refers to himself as a “poststructuralist” engaged in“critical social theory.” And, as a “poststructuralist” concerned with positivist epistemologiesand their applications in neorealist theory, international political theorists understand him asa post-positivist. As for those who would entrap him within the disciplinary confines of20 use the concept of interpretivism in synonymic fashion with those of deconstruction and hermeneutics.These I consider to be interchangeable concepts denoting identical meaning except in emphasis and context.Albert Shalom, for example, notes a trend in post-Wittgensteinian philosophy of what he calls a “reified seriesof linguistic acts” and the creation of “an extra-linguistic reality which now becomes the object of a special kindof search called philosophy.” And this philosophy, he argues, derives from an approach that “has given rise toa more pronounced skeptical trend, under the name of ‘deconstruction,’ itself the consequence of a certain wayof conceiving ‘hermeneutics,’ which itself simply means ‘interpretation.” See the discussion in Shalom, A.,(1990), “The Metaphilosophy of Meaning,” Dialectics and Humanism. Vol.17,No.3,Summer, pp.34-35.Page 136“international political theorist,” Ashley prefers the “margins” and now labels himself a“dissident.”This ambiguity and definitional obfuscation, however, is intended, part of Ashley’singenious method for exploiting interpretivism by portending to escape all forms of“territorialising logic.”2’ The result, though, is a blinding confusion for those who attempt tosummarise his theoretical offerings. Friedrich Kratochwil, for example, can condemn him for“the sorry state of theory building in international relations,” while Ramashray Roy praisesAshley’s “bold venture” and theoretical iimovations.22 Ashley, it seems, is the wanderingmaster of illusion; neither Marxist nor realist, liberal or reactionary, globalist or statist, but thequintessential floating signIer protected by the many meanings, interpretations, and confusionscaused by the multiplying applications of the prefix post.23 Consequently, few in the disciplineknow what to make of him, what label to affix to him, and still fewer how to assess him. Thismight explain why comprehensive critiques of his work have been so sporadic and why Ashleycan claim for himself the persona of enigma.Such illusions, however, are deliberate, and his enigma orchestrated. Indeed, much ofhis attraction derives from the ease with which his imprecise language lends itself tomultifarious “readings” and interpretations. Understanding Ashley therefore becomes21 Ashley, R.K., (1991), “The State of the Discipline: Realism Under Challenge,” in Higgott, R., &Richardson, J.L., (eds.), International Relations: Global andAustralian Perspectives on an Evolving Discipline.Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, the Australian NationalUniversity, p.38.22 See, for example, Kratochwil, F., (1986), “Errors Have Their Advantages,” International Organization,Vol.38.No.2, Spring, p.305. See also, Roy, R., (1988), “Limits of a Genealogical Approach to InternationalPolitics,” Alternatives, Vol.13 ,No. 1, p.77.23 Spegele, R.D., (1992), “Richard Ashley’s Discourse for International Relations,” Millennium, Vol.21.No.2,Summer, p.147.Page 137oxymoronic; in the post-modem world he is not to be understood so much as “interpreted.” Infact, he cannot be understood if we accept that the “post-modem reader” now resists authorialauthority in the transmission of ideas, theory and knowledge, and instead reads intersubjectivelyand intertextually. Ashley has adroitly exploited this nebulous interface between author, text,and reader, enabling him to triumph where others have failed. Rather than resist this“interpretive turn” Ashley has expropriated its concepts, recognizing their political utility.24His writings are deliberately designed to facilitate interpretivism. Ambiguous prose combinedwith eristic rhetoric, for example, helps ensure his writings appeal to multiple audiences, speaksto different “readers” in different ways, and allows his writings to be recombined in forms thataccommodate themselves to various theoretical debates. Consequently, Ashley can write withthe unique knowledge that he will be “read” with relative impunity; his project not so muchcritically assessed or rebuked, as merely “interpreted” in endless rounds of intertextualdiscourses.This technique is politically accommodating, inclusive of contending issues and groupsand exploited as a political strategy. Consider, for example, his use of theoretical eclecticism,where he melds seemingly dissimilar concepts and issues into a single “critical approach.” Inthis way, Ashley invents a “discourse” that purports to deal with neorealist theory but invokesissues of literary theory, gender, feminist psychoanalytic theory, associates rationality withmasculinity and oppression, recombines this into a Foucauldian theory of power andknowledge, and deconstructs the state on the basis that it derives from constructivist logic to24 On the so-called “interpretive turn,” see the excellent discussions in Hiley.D.R., Bohman, J.F., &Shusterman, R., (1991)(eds.), The Interpretive Turn: Philosophy, Science, Culture. Ithaca: Cornell UniversityPress.Page 138validate the practices of realism. The arguments are not so much important here as is thepolitical intent of his writings. It enables Ashley to be “read” as a feminist, environmentalist,champion of the oppressed and marginalized, and concurrently interpreted as a post-modernist,post-structuralist, critical theorist, and international political theorist, and at various pointsrejected as each of these but without apparent damage to his political standing! This,undoubtedly, is what has made for so much confusion over his work. Most theorists havesuccumbed to one or another of these personalities or “readings” without realizing theircomplicity in accommodating Ashley’s strategies. Consequently, previous attempts at analyzingAshley have inanely concerned themselves with interpreting his nomenclature, deciphering hismeaning, or attempting to affix the correct post to his project. These efforts have provenfruitless, however, if only because of Ashley’s ease at assuming yet another personality andso escaping a systematic logic that might define and expose him. Thus, the immediate dilemmain attempting to understand Ashley is to consider that he might not want to be understood atall. He will always be an intellectual fugitive, one step ahead of those who would entrap himin a “territorialising logic.” His appeal lies in his ambiguity, not the fixity of his concepts buttheir fluidity, his notoriety in interpretivism, not the exactness of his language and meaning.Ashley’s multiple personalities and eclecticism are therefore best understood as political toolsand not theoretical approaches. They are employed to reify interpretivism and, moreimportantly, to recruit political allies. As Roger Spegele points out, Ashley is the master of“overblown rhetoric in a political campaign to persuade... [others].. in international studies tocome over” to his “version of dissidence.”2525 Spegele, R.D., (1992), op.cit, p.156.Page 139My point is that most previous attempts at analyzing Ashley have failed on this count,approaching his thesis scholastically as if an apolitical and non-ideological exercise. Theoristslike William Connolly, Robert Gilpin, or Friedrich Kratochwil, for example, have beenperplexed at Ashley’s continuing notoriety despite their habitual attempts to point out thetheoretical inconsistencies of his arguments.26 Kratochwil, in particular, rehearses Ashley’s“immoderate, conceptually unclear, and often mistaken” treatise, and castigates him for not“communicating effectively with his audience” and his forsaking “conceptual clarity,” but neveronce pauses to consider that this is precisely Ashley’s intent in a partisan project lessconcerned with theoretical eloquence and consistency as it is with ideological insurrection.Thus, Kratochwil remains confused at Ashley’s continually “beating dead horses and strawmen.”27Reading Ashley is therefore fraught with danger; traps have been set into which theunwary reader might stumble. Because of this, Ashley has to be read critically and nottextually or interpretively. The theoretical suppositions and biases in his arguments along withthe contradictions inherent in his theory need to be exposed. The allegations he makes againstthose in the discipline, of the “submission” of women, of the “conspicuous displays ofviolence” committed against “students, junior faculty, scholars of color, feminists, and otherdisciplinary marginals,” need to be critically assessed and substantiated, not merely “five times26 See, Gilpin, R., (1986), op.cit, Kratochwil, F., (1984), op.cit, and Connolly, W.E., (1989), “Identity andDifference in Global Politics,” in Der Derian, J., & Shapiro, M.J., (eds.), Internaturnal/Intertextual Relations:Postmodern Readings of World Politics. New York: Lexington Books, pp.323-342.27 Kratochwil, F., (1984), op.cit, pp.306-307.Page 140recited in a single paragraph” as is Ashley’s style.28 More importantly, though, Ashley’spartisan project needs to be exposed so that his theoretical allegations can better be appreciatedin light of his ideological motivations. I now turn to this “reading” of Ashley.The “Heroic” Ashley: Epistemological Post-modernism and NeorealismIn this section I continue my exploration of Ashley and attempt to contextualise hiswork both episodically and thematically. I concentrate here on Ashley’s formative works, orwhat I shall characterise as Ashley’s “heroic” episode, and thematically analyze his motifs oftechnical rationality, structuralism, economism, and reductionism. 29 My reasons for doing thisare fourfold. First, apart from The Poverty of Neorealism, Ashley’s early works have beengenerally ignored, detracting from a perspicacious understanding of the evolution of his ideas.Second, this has fostered the false impression that his work is a unitary exercise founded upon28 Ashley, R. K., & Walker, R.B.J., (1990), “Reading Dissidence/Writing the Discipline: Crisis and theQuestion of Sovereignty in International Studies,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.34,No.3, p.4 11.29 In this early phase, 1980-1985, I consider the following works in chronological order: Ashley, R.K., (1980),The Political Economy of War and Peace. London: Frances Pinter; Ashley, R.K., (1982), “Political Realism andHuman Interests,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.25.No.2, June, pp.204-236; Ashley, R.K., (1983), “TheEye of Power: The Politics ofWorld Modelling,” International Organization, Vol.37.No.3, Summer, pp.495-535;Ashley, R.K., (1983), “Three Modes of Economism,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.27,No.4, December,pp.463-496; Ashley, R.K., (1984), “The Poverty ofNeorealism,” International Organization, Vol.38,No.2, Spring,pp.225-286. In the second phase, 1986-1994, I consider: Ashley, R.K., (1987), “The Geopolitics of GeopoliticalSpace: Toward a Critical Social Theory of International Politics,” Alternatives, Vol. 12,No.4, pp.403-434; Ashley,R.K., (1988), “Geopolitics, Supplementary, Criticism: A Reply to Professors Roy and Walker,” Alternatives,Vol.13 ,No. 1, January, pp.88-102; Ashley, R.K., (1988), “Untying the Sovereign State: A Double Reading of theAnarchy Problematique,” Millennium, Vol.17,No.2, Summer, pp.227-262; Ashley, R.K., (1989), “Living onBorder Lines: Man, Poststructuralism, and War,” in Der Derian, J., & Shapiro, M.J., (eds.),International/Intertextual Relations: Postmodern Readings of World Politics. New York: Lexington Books,pp.259-321; Ashley, R.K., & Walker, R.B.J., (1990), “Speaking the Language of Exile: Dissident Thought inInternational Studies,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.34,No.3, pp.259-268; Ashley, R.K., & Walker, R.B.J.,(1990), “Reading Dissidence/Writing the Discipline: Crisis and the Question of Sovereignty in InternationalStudies,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.34,No.3, pp.36’7-4l6; Ashley, R.K., (1991), “The State of theDiscipline: Realism Under Challenge,” in Higgott, R., & Richardson, J.L., (eds.), International Relations: Globaland Australian Perspectives on an Evolving Discipline. Canberra: Department of International Relations,Research School of Pacific Studies, the Australian National University, pp.37-69.Page 141the rejection of structural realism. While this is true to some degree, it understates the realintent and scope of Ashley’s project. When considered collectively, for example, Ashley’s earlyworks are as much a polemic against economistic, structuralist and reductionist forms of theory,as they are a rejection of neorealism itself. Third, Ashley’s writings should not be consideredseparately but as a series of inter-related efforts more accurately understood as a ect.”3°In this regard, his early writings need to be seen as contiguous efforts, each concerned withvalidating one particular aspect of his overall program. And fourth, I review his early workssince I believe them to be the more substantive, original, and useful of his contributions,especially Ashley’s insightful critique of the structuralist turn in international political theory.Against “Technical Rationality”Ashley’s earliest work, The Political Economy of War and Peace, upon first readingappears to bear no relation to his subsequent concerns.31 It was, he wrote, a book “about thesources of conflict and violence among today’s major military powers: the Chinese People’sRepublic, the Soviet Union, and the United States.” Its focus, he added, addressed the issuesof “the balance of power,” the “modern security problematique,” and the dynamics anddilemmas of military rivalry.” Its approach Ashley termed “international political economy,”30 Indeed, how one reads Ashley will largely determine how adequately one understands him. There are, Iargue, two ways of reading Ashley. The first approaches his writings individually, assumes each work to be a self-contained and separate treatise, and assesses the intellectual strengths and weaknesses of these works on the basisof this closed hermeneutic. On this reading, much of Ashley’s writings appear confusing, thematically unrelatedand disparate. Witness, for example, the commentaries and critiques by Robert Gilpin and Friedrich Kratochwilin Robert Keohane’s, Neorealism and its Critics, where Ashley’s article, The Poverty ofNeorealism, is treatedin isolation from his preceding work. The second way of reading Ashley, however, is more rewarding. Itapproaches his work not as a series of discrete writings but constitutive of a larger “project;” a project as grandas any that Ashley would otherwise dismiss as “meta-theory” or “meta-narrative.” My point, simply, is that Ashleymust be read in his entirety if he is to be understood properly, since each of his works are contributing chapters,so to speak, systemically related to an ideological commitment that is Ashley’s modus operandi.31 Ashley, R.K., (1980), The Political Economy of War and Peace. London: Frances Pinter.Page 142and its contents considered “the processes of growth— differential, technological, economic, andpopulation growth in a world of finite resources and unevenly distributed capabilities.”32Ostensibly, the study purported to be orthodox, the methodology empirical, and the objectivelaudable; “the search for a lasting peaceful order.”33 Books, however, can never be judged bytheir covers, nor should their contents by the prefatory remarks that introduce them. Indeed,while Ashley’s book was about all these things, they were neither the purpose of, nor point to,his study. Rather, they were exemplars; demonstrative subjects used to illustrate theconsequences of a particular mode of conceptualization that Ashley termed “technicalrationality.” The latter became and remains Ashley’s intellectual raison d ‘etre; the definingpurpose and motivation of all his works. And for this reason The Political Economy of Warand Peace, remains central to any appreciation of Ashley’s intellectual development, since itforeshadowed and defined his subsequent ‘project’ and the path it would take. In fact, theworks that followed were merely augmentations, logical extensions and refinements ofAshley’scrusade against “technical rationality,” that, eventually, would lead him to reject rationalityaltogether and adopt a subversive philosophy.In this first, “heroic” episode, Ashley’s project was comprised of three constellations:the first was his attack against the superstructural edifice of technical rationalism; the secondattacked the substructural foundations of instrumentalist logic when he argued the case againsteconomism and reductionism; and the third extended this critique to attack structuralism. Hisrejection of neorealism was therefore only incidental; predicated not on the nature, logical32 ibid p.ixibid.Page 143consistency, or efficacy of neorealist theory per Se, but upon neorealism as the exemplar parexcellent of technical rationalism and structuralist theory.It is thus that I approach his works both episodically and thematically, and his writingsas an inter-related program unified by their rejection of technical rationalism. The latter, Ashleybelieved, inspired an instrumentalist “grammar of thought” that reduced scholarship to thedesign of “research programs” whose sole objective was the analysis and solution of discreteproblem situations. This enterprise, he wrote, tended;to conceive of life as consisting of so many more or less discrete problemsituations; . . .defined in terms of certain given purposes or needs, certainobstacles to or limits on the realization or satisfaction of these, and certainmeans by which the obstacles and limits can or might be overcome.Technical rationality tended to lure the pursuit of knowledge into this service, denyingany “rational purpose for knowledge and skills except insofar as they orient the development,application, or strategic manipulation of means to solve problems and serve ends.”35 Ashley’spolemic was therefore directed against the construction and use of theory for purelyinstrumental purposes. Perhaps reacting to the remains of the behaviouralist revolution, Ashleywas at pains to reject such pragmatic and utilitarian theoretical enterprises, in part becausetheory lost its critical function and became simply a non-reflective problem-solving tool.Doubtless Ashley was also reacting to what Richardson described as the discipline’s “excessivereliance on the style of theorising derived from economics” and “a one-sided emphasis on“ ibid, p.210.ibid, p.209.Page 144rational choice models.”36 As far as Ashley was concerned, rational choice and utilitytheory37 made the study of international relations a technocratic exercise. In this way, theoristswere less concerned with the theoretical task of explaining the complex “multi-levelphenomena of international relations,” as they were with developing parsimonious modelsdrawn from empirical observations of the patterns of behaviour, historical repetitions, orstructural attributes of discrete subject areas.38 Ashley outlined this methodological schemain the case of the “security problematique,” where technical rationality inspired a grammar ofthought that attempted;to systematically join insights from several different traditions, each focusingupon particular sectors or levels of activity, and each offering generalizingknowledge claims regarding certain patterns and processes.Moreover, Ashley noted, “[ejach assumes that the patterns it identifies reflect thetechnical-rational choices of people acting within certain kinds of problem situations.” The aimof this “knowledge” was purely instrumental; that “as a knowledge of . .. [a]... particular domainis enhanced and applied, people will be better able to make rational choices that solve ormanage the problems that beset them.”39 The job of the social scientist was therefore reducedto that of technician, whose task was to ensure “improved knowledge” and the “resoluteapplication” of that knowledge as a means to greater control and the creation of a “more36 Richardson, J.L., (1991), “The State of the Discipline: A Critical Practitioner’s View,” in Higgott, R., &Richardson, J.L., (1991), International Relations: Global andAustralian Perspectives in an Evolving Discipline.Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian NationalUniversity, p.31.These concepts Ashley tended to refer to as “situational analysis.”38 This was the implicit project of the behaviouralists in international political theory, and of the behaviouralistrevolution in the social sciences generally. See Richardson, J.L., (1991), op.cit, p.32.Ashley, R.K., (1980), op.cit, p.213.Page 145encompassing political order.”4° Such an approach had long comprised the theoreticalambitions of scholars of international politics. Hans Morgenthau, for instance, had urged thatwe;• . .put ourselves in the position of a statesmen who must confront a certainproblem of foreign policy under certain circumstances, and [that] we askourselves what the rational alternatives are from which a statesmen may choosewho must meet this problem under these circumstances,.. .and which of thesecircumstances he is likely to choose.For Morgenthau, it was “the testing of this rational hypothesis against the actual factsand their circumstances” that would give “theoretical meaning to the facts of internationalpolitics.”41 This approach proved attractive, dominating “theoretical” research for many yearsto come. Ashley, for example, argued that “Stanley Hoffmann’s ‘imaginative reconstruction’and Thomas Schelling’s ‘vicarious problem solving” were complementary extensions ofMorgenthau’s approach and technical rationalism. This was also true of “Ernst Hans and hisassumptions about welfare-oriented technocrat-politicians;” of “Keohane and Nye with theirarguments about the choices of state bureaucracies engaged in transgovernmental politics;” aswell as Graham Allison with his attempt to locate rationality within “bureaucratic ‘players’ ina ‘central competitive game.”42 Ashley thought all these approaches were essentially thesame, in that they all assumed “the actualities of international relations” could “be understood40 ibid.Hans Morgenthau as quoted in ibid, p.212.42 ibid.Page 146in terms of the interactions, aggregations, and recombinations of individual technical-rationalchoices.”43Ashley rejected this approach not only for its utilitarian and instrumentalist rationalitybut also for its hegemonic dominance, particularly its ability to exclude and delegitimize otherknowledge systems. More obviously, though, Ashley opposed the delimiting task proscribedthe social scientist by technical rationalism: a task instrumentally conceived in order to capture“social laws or general social principles” as a means to “solve (analytical) problems, close(theoretical-empirical) gaps, and bring social reality (intellectually) under control.” And to theextent that knowledge and scholarship were seen simply a means to inform and “solveparticular social problems,” and their worth judged on this basis, then in Ashley’s view thismade the dominance of technical rationality “all the more plain,” and its effects the moreinsidious.44Ashley’s concerns and the debate they inspired will be familiar, albeit presentlyconducted under the “positivist” versus “post-positivist” rubric. Indeed, technical rationality hasbecome one of the central motifs that currently informs the parameters of discourse betweencontending “schools of thought” in the field. We need hardly recall, for example, RobertKeohane’ s recent chastising of the “reflective approaches” for their failure to approximate“rationalistic premises” and impart “a clear reflective research program.” Keohane argues thatthe non-rationalist approaches are “less well specified as theories,” too preoccupied withepistemological and ontological debates and therefore display “little prospect of becoming aibid, p.213.ibid.Page 147comprehensive deductive explanation of international institutions.” “Rationalistic theory,” heargues, offers such an explanation, and is able to “specify the characteristics of a giveninstitutional situation” and “anticipate the path that change will take.” “Reflective theory,” onthe other hand, offers us the machinations of self-doubt, philosophic speculation, and from thepoint of view of empirical theory, inconsequential, untestable, non-operational, and non-usefulconjecture. His remarks clearly expose the chasm between these two contending schools,demonstrated, for example, when he insists that “interpretive” scholars are yet to “illuminateimportant issues in world politics.” The inference is quite apparent: reflective approaches areless than worthy of the title “theory,” and their project something other than useful andlegitimate if not formalized and presented as a “research program” germane to predictive andproblem-solving tasks. Under the regime of technical rationality45, legitimacy for the“reflectivist approaches’ rests in their renouncing the “margins” and their adopting a “researchprogram” with “testable theories” and an “explicit” research “scope” that leads to “systematicempirical investigations.”46The problem of course is that Keohane’s recommendations not only disparage thehermeneutic epistemology of the reflectivist approach, but recommend its complete overhauland substitution for a positivist one!47 And this was precisely Ashley’s point and his reasonfor rejecting technical rationality. The “grammar of thought” it inspires acts as an intellectualOr what Ashley would now call modernist discourse or positivism.46 Keohane, R.O., (1988), op.cit, pp.382-383,388,390-393.It is somewhat amusing to note that after reconimending such a savage overhaul of the “reflectivist”approach, Keohane then feels compelled to hope for the eventual “synthesis” of the “rationalist” and “reflectivist”approaches. One can only imagine what there might be left to “synthesize!” See Keohane, R.O., (1988), op.cit,p.393.Page 148hegemon and a self-appointed arbiter of what is, and what is not, legitimate theory, research,and knowledge. James Der Derian makes a similar observation of Keohane’ s arguments, notingthat within them there “lies an implicit imprecation: if one is to find a ‘genuine researchprogram’ it is better to take the enlightened road of rationalist reflection than the benightedwood of poststructuralist reflexivity.”48Ashley’s observations were not meant as arcane reflections on the territorializingabilities of one particular knowledge system however. He believed they had very realimplications for the way in which global politics, security, trade, or decision-making processeswere conducted. And it was through these concerns that his alternative theoretical vision wouldcome ultimately to confront neorealist theory. His explorations of the “security problematique,”for example, were meant to be illustrative of but one “protracted climactic scene in the tragicdrama of technical rationality’s ultimate failure.”49 The constellation of global order embodiedin the state system and, ergo, the “modern security problematique,” for example, Ashleyattributed “not to natural law and not to historical accident, but to the culminations and theinteractions of processes framed by a technical-rational grammar of Within the“violence prone [state] system,” he noted, it was impossible to “contemplate peace within agrammar of thought that frame[ed] choices in a way producing the absence of peace.”5’48 Der Derian, J., (1992), op.cit, p.8.‘ Ashley, R.K., (1980), op.cit, p.214.° ibid p.xv.51 ibid pp. 208 & xv.Page 149Against “technical rationality’ Ashley therefore aspired to create a more encompassingand liberating form of reflection, to open up a new, “more expansive rational logic” as a meansto escape the delimiting options conferred by instrumentalist thought. He also wanted todemonstrate the capacity for reflective political agency, to change structural conditions ratherthan merely react to their circumstances. This alternative form of reflection he clumsily termed“rationality proper.” Unlike technical rationality it was cognizant of history, the historicalconditioning of reality, and of a “differentiated reality.” It attempted to embed and subordinate“technical rationality within a richer logic that problematize[d] the elements of technical-rational problem-solving.”52The aim was to escape finitude in knowledge and understanding,at least as proclaimed by the shibboleths of technical rationalism, and restore to the task ofknowledge generation a sense of on-going reflection. All knowledge had therefore to besituated within historical contexts, and its meaning and efficacy restricted to that milieu.History, in other words, could not be understood as a series of structures imposed from above,and truth an autonomous referent detached from historically specific conditions, but as a seriesof perpetually changing socio-political practices and modes of thought modified by agentswithin interrelated, but historically distinctive epochs. This clearly established Ashley’sopposition to structuralist theory, since the latter discounted the role of political agency, failedto understand history as the processual outcome of structurated interactions between subjectsand structures, and foreclosed political/historical options via structuralist determinism.53 Incontrast, Ashley understood history as knowable only via “an attempt to ‘import’ the larger52 ibid, p.217.On structuration theory see the work of Giddens, A., (1986), The Constitution ofSociety: Outline of theTheory of Structuration. Berkeley: University of California Press.Page 150historical reality” so as “to engage, criticize, and synthesize competing vantage pointsassociated with other aspects of reality.” By doing so, Ashley could avoid “invoking theassumption that there exists some fixed, final, and potentially knowable structure predominatingover the whole of reality.”54 The difference between these two perspectives was thereforeontological. Technical rationality proclaimed “human freedom by denying the deterministinfluences of historical processes” yet was “entrapped” in history and “unable to imagine orcriticise” it. Rationality proper, on the other hand, commenced “the search for human freedomby allowing that human beings... [were] distinctly unfree of historical-processual influences” andembedded in community constituted by tradition.The distinction rested on the ontological conception of history:Technical rationality sees history episodically, as a sequence ofdiscrete.. .problem situations. It see [sic] reality as segmentable. . .into a numberof bounded.. .problem domains.. .Rationality proper sees history processually. Itallows that the segments of reality are processually created, interdependent, andsusceptible to change.55Truth, knowledge, and reality were therefore different creatures depending upon one’sontological conception of history:Technical rationality assumes the autonomy of systematic knowledge, [and] seestruth in the actual dominant patterns of the historical moment...Rationality properstrives for autonomy and truth by seeking.. .an intersubjective consensus throughthe.. .exchange of communications and criticisms among people.. .situated within,and having varying vantage points upon, the whole of actual and possible humanexperience.56‘ Ashley, R.K., (1980), op.cit, pp.216-217.ibid, p.216.56 ibid, p.216.Page 151Ashley’s approach therefore reified historicity, making knowledge contingent not onlyon the historical milieu it occupied but also on the cultural vantage point from which itstemmed. The methodology was contextualist and designed to escape the structuralist logic thatdominated social and political theory throughout the 1960s and 1970s. It was also idealistic,aspiring to erect a “rationality proper” that would inform an “emancipatory logic.” The latterAshley implored of the “transnational communities of social science” who, he argued,represented “a likely point of departure for [the, development of an] emancipatory praxis.”57Indeed, Ashley was optimistic that technical rationality’s dominance would decline. This hebelieved was coming about due to technological changes that would allow “greater latitude foreffective expression;” first, in the developments in global communications and informationprocessing technologies; secondly, through growing global interdependence and crossculturalism, and; thirdly, in the “growth of a multifaceted, transnational social scientificcommunity that” was “already exhibiting a modest commitment to the seeking of autonomythrough the criticism-conscious pursuit of some intersubjective consensus across social,political, and economic divides.” While these developments did not guarantee the subordinationof technical rationality, they did present “opportunities unlike any previously experienced inthe history of human-kind.”58 More importantly, they were occurring at precisely the sametime as was the interpretivist and post-structuralist turn in political theory in the United States.The latter Ashley not only foresaw, but would eventually contribute to and exploit. And this,more than any other single event, provided Ashley with the intellectual-theoretical wherewithalibid, p.208.58 ibid, p.219.Page 152to challenge what he saw as the “acme” of technical rationality; “[wjorld empire via massiveviolence.” At the very least it would furnish him the theoretical means to unmask the “falselogic” of technical rationality. And, it need hardly be noted, this became Ashley’spreoccupation; an “heroic” effort to speak with a “sovereign voice” and invoke an alternativemeans of thinking, conceptualizing, theorizing, and ergo of political praxis. His project wastherefore begun, his course of action defined, and the method implicit. The arguments andallegations would become legion, and all of them sounded from this beginning:.technical rationality is a false logic.. .It is a false logic because it is at once acreative logic and a logic totally in awe of its creations. It is a false logicbecause it serves human purposes without questioning their sources and createsnew needs in ways it refuses to see.. .It is a false logic because it orients attemptsto solve problems in fragments, frames social action such that it institutionalizeslimitlessness in society’s manifest structures and forms, and thereby implicatesall aspects of a finite world in every seemingly isolated problem situation. It isa false logic because its equates autonomy with an unobtainable independenceand mastery over the environment.. .It is a false logic because, in its celebrationof autonomy and its equation of autonomy with power, it finds lasting successby persistently subordinating the many to the solutions of the few.59With the objectives and targets of his project defined, and the obsessions of hisideological ambitions implicit in his call for an “emancipatory praxis,” all that remained wasan on-going “heroic” commitment to their realization. In the context of international politicaltheory, that commitment would continue by his connecting realism (specifically neorealism)to technical rationality, positivism, economism, reductionism, and eventually to structuralism.The next section explores the development of these connections.ibid, pp.214-215.Page 153Against Technical Rationality, Positivism, Economism and StructuralismThe four articles considered here comprised Ashley’s most ingenious and certainly hismost erudite period.60 Each was concerned with validating a particular aspect of hisideological program. Political Realism and Human Interests, for example, extended his critiqueof technical rationality to the domain of political realism. The Eye of the Power: The Politicsof World Modeling, vilified the paragon of technical “science” presumed in attempts to modelworld order and calculate interests, costs, benefits, and outcomes, while situating itsepistemology within positivism and its technical rationality in a Benthamite panopticonpreoccupied with control. The Three Modes of Economism attacked the economisation oftheory, the infusion of econometric logic into the “determination of social and politicalrelations,” and the reduction of all things political to the “logic of economy.” Finally, ThePoverty of Neorealism was the conduit that synthesised all these concerns, the climaticpresentation that charged neorealist theory with a legion of theoretical crimes; first in itspenchant toward structuralism; second its technical rationalism embodied in its instrumentalistutilitarianism; and last in its reductionist econometric logic that reified positivism and scienceto the detriment of a reflective, critical-hermeneutic understanding of international politics.6’60 These works, in chronological order, are: Ashley, R.K., (1981), “Political Realism and Human Interests,”International Studies Quarterly, Vol.25.No.2, June, pp.204-236. Ashley, R.K., (1983), “The Eye of Power: ThePolitics of World Modelling,” International Organization, Vol.37.No.3, Summer, pp.495-535. Ashley, R.K.,(1983), “Three Modes of Economism,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.27,No.4, December, pp.463-496, &Ashley, R.K., (1986), “The Poverty of Neorealism,” in Keohane, R.O., (ed.), Neorealism and its Critics. NewYork: Columbia University Press, pp.225-286.61 See Ashley, R.K., (1986), op.cit, pp.225-286. Ashley, R.K., (1983), “Three Modes of Economism,”International Studies Quarterly, Vol.27,No.4, December, pp.463-4.Page 154While thematically discrete, all these articles were inter-related — cumulative projectsdesigned to challenge orthodox international political theory. In this respect, they were hardlyunique. All Ashley’s contributions have attempted to problematise orthodox interpretations ofinternational politics. What distinguished these earlier attempts from his more recentcontributions was their grounding in rationalist epistemology. Despite his incredulity towardmodernist meta-narratives and their positivist foundationalism, his work derived entirely frommodernist-Enlightenment thinking. In Political Realism and Human Interests, for example, thewritings of Jurgen Habermas, one of the leading champions of Enlightenment thought, wereused to distinguish between what Ashley termed a “technical” and a “practical realism.”62 Thelatter Ashley understood as containing “genuine antinomies —-some critical tensions” that madeit, “at least potentially, a vital, open ended tradition.”63 Practical realism, he wrote, had a“practical cognitive interest:”This is an interest in knowledge as a basis for furthering mutual, intersubjectiveunderstanding. It guides knowledge toward the development of ‘interpretationsthat make possible the orientations of action within common traditions.’64Technical realism, on the other hand, had a “technical cognitive interest:”This is an interest in knowledge as the basis for extending control over objectsin the subject’s environment (possibly including strategic dominance over otherhuman beings). It guides knowledge to obtain ‘information that expands...powers62 Ashley, R.K., (1981), op.cit, p.204. See, for example, the writings of Habermas, J., (1991), ThePhilosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, (Frederick G. Lawrence: Trans.), Cambridge,Massachusetts: MIT Press. See also the discussion in the edited volume by Bernstein, R.J., (1988)(edj, Habermasand Modernity, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.63 Ashley, R.K., (1981), op.cit, p.204.64 ibid, p.208.Page 155of technical control. The technical cognitive interest.. .finds its foremostphilosophical expression in positivism.. 65As always, the point of his critique was to contextualise knowledge and demonstratethe fallacy of positivistic social science and technical realism. “Knowledge,” he wrote, “is notconstituted objectively. It is not constituted as a ‘universe of facts whose lawlike connectioncan be grasped descriptively.” Instead, “the illusion of obj ectivism,” of knowledge inductivelygenerated via the positivist pretence of a posteriori value-neutral observation, had to “bereplaced with the recognition that knowledge is always constituted in reflection of interests.”66Ashley’s dilemma, then, was Habermasian in nature: “how to progress beyond this positionwithout reducing the relation between knowledge and interests to Mamtheimian simplisms”?67(for example, Robert Cox’s reductionist adage that “Theory is always for someone and forsome purpose”).68 Stated in another way: how is realism to “reconcile a practical interest in65 ibid.66 ibid, p.20767 Mannheim (1893-1947), postulated a theory of the sociology of knowledge that, essentially, understoodknowledge as socially constituted in respect of membership to particular social groups, social classes, sects, andcompetition among these groups. In this way, Mamiheim understood knowledge and “truth” as merely relativisticconstructs embedded in “beliefs” that were themselves socially located and perfunctory of specific (material,ideological, competitive, cultural) interests. Consequently, Mannheim argued that all knowledge was relative, thatthere was no such thing as “true” beliefs only accepted beliefs reflecting socially embedded traditions, and thereexisted no socially independent criteria of “truth” since all knowledge-generating agents were socially constitutedand biased. See, for example, Mannheim, K., (1986), Conservatism: A Contribution to the Sociology ofKnowledge. (Kettler, D., Meja, V., & Stehr, N., eds., Trans.), London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Here, Mannheimoperationalised his theory with respect to the conservative classes and their beliefs. See also, Mannheim, K.,(1952), Essays on the Sociology ofKnowledge. (Kecskemeti, P., ed.), New York: Oxford University Press.68 Cox, R.W., (1986), “Social Forces, States and World Order: Beyond International Relations Theory,” inKeohane, R.O., Neorealism and its Critics, New York: Columbia University Press, p.207. This rather triteobservation reduces all knowledge to a power/materiality nexus, denying theory, or knowledge generationgenerally, any autonomy from the “mode of production” in which it operates. Power and materiality becomedeterminist of theory, interpretation and understanding, and theorists, we might also assume, become no more thanautomatons in the service of some mode of production. The position seems somewhat absurd, especially sinceCox’s dictum would also implicate his theoretical efforts in similar un-virtuous pursuits!Page 156intersubjective understanding, on the one hand, with the mutually objectifying instrumentalismof power politics, on the other?” Ashley’s solution (borrowed, in part, from Habermas) washermeneutic interpretivism, or “practical realism:” a “tradition” derived from “subjectivities”who “maintain a consensus of co-reflective self-understanding.” The idea was deceptivelysimple: to situate all knowledge and understanding in the series of social relations constitutedby the historical traditions established by subjective practices.7°The aim of knowledge hadtherefore to be “the attainment of possible consensus among actors in the framework of a self-understanding derived from tradition.”71 Practically speaking, this meant “the integration ofsociety, the maintenance of order, the mutuality of interaction, and the avoidance of severe,dislocating social conflict.”72 In this way, “valid knowledge” for practical realism, entailednot so much an improved capacity to control one’s object environment, but animproved capacity to be and behave as a worthy member of one’s traditionalcommunity, with its intersubjective and consensually endorsed norms, rights,meanings, purposes, and limitations on what the individual participants can beand might become.73This hermeneutical method of inquiry approached “texts” interpretively; not a post-modernist sense of interpretation detached from empirical verification, but one that “tests” thehypothesis of “texts” against practice. As Ashley put it; “[e]very interpretation is tested, as itAshley, R.K., (1981), op.cit, pp.208 & 215.° ibid p.211.71 Jurgen Habermas as quoted in ibid, p.210.72 ibid p.212.ibid, pp.211-212.Page 157were, insofar as it generates expectations for practice, including language, that can be gaugedagainst actual practices.” Consequently,a disappointment of expectations signals the failure of interpretation and carry the dialogue forward...Only when the interpreter’s expectationsclose on actual practice can it be said — and then always provisionally—-that theinterpreter has succeeded...74As an example of “practical realism” and this “hermeneutic attitude,” Ashley cited thework of Hans Morgenthau75,who urged that we;retrace and anticipate.. .the steps a statesmen—-past, present, or future — has takenor will take on the political scene. We look over his shoulder when he writes hisdispatches; we listen in on his conversations with other statesmen; we read andanticipate his very thoughts.76Morgenthau’ s realism was interpretivist to the extent that it recognized that realistpractices were socially located; that they reflected, and were contingent upon, the actions ofagents acting within historical traditions to give them meaning and reality. And Morgenthau’sapproach was “practical realism” to the extent that it recognized that “[nb study ofpolitics.. .can be disinterested in the sense that it is possible to divorce knowledge from action.”ibid pp.212-213.It is interesting, and at times confusing, to observe Ashley’s love-hate relationship with Hans Morgenthau.At various points in Ashley’s writings, for example, Morgenthau is upheld as the pillar of “practical realism” or“classical realism,” a form of realism that Ashley in his “heroic” phase implored his readers to return to. At othertimes, however, Ashley uses Morgenthau as an example of the nemesis of “technical realism” or “scientificrealism,” tersely rejecting his work for its pretence to ‘science” and its use of positivist epistemology. Doubtless,readers will be confused justifiably as to which “Morgenthau’ is under consideration at any one moment in time,since Ashley fails to periodise Morgenthau’s work or categorise his writings into discrete intellectual phases.Rather, the only explanation Ashley offers is to note that Morgenthau’s “ exemplary...since both aspects(“practical” and “technical” realism) appear in his work.” One is left with the impression that Morgenthau is, atone and the same time, a “technical,” “practical,” “scientific,” ‘positivist,” and “hermeneutic” realist! See Ashley,R.K. (1981), op.cit, p.210.76 Hans Morgenthau as quoted in Ashley, R.K., (1981), op.cit, p.213. See also, Morgenthau, H.J., (1967),Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. New York: Alfred Knopf & Morgenthau, H.J.,(1958), Dilemmas of Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Page 158Far from being esoteric-philosophic reflection, then, “practical realism” displayed a “practicalcognitive interest,” albeit articulated via a “hermeneutic logic.”77 It was not an instance oftheory detached from practice any more than it was observations of practice detached fromtheory. On the contrary, it reflected the intersection between action and knowledge,synthesising these two categories into one to produce apraxiology of international politics. AndMorgenthau’s hermeneutical praxiology was, according to Ashley, a form of textualinterpretivism, where theoretical insights vented practice, informing the conundrums of foreignpolicy, statesmanship, diplomacy, and statecraft, while realist practices vented theory, providingthe empirical referents to “test” texts and, through a perpetual state of modification, adapttheory to the modalities of specific historical circumstance. So important was Morgenthau’ s“hermeneutic attitude” that, for Ashley, it explained “why Politics Among Nations” was “still‘must reading’ among foreign service officers.” For it not only recognized their politicalagency, albeit restrained by the traditions in which they operated, but provided the nearest thingyet to a practical-theoretical manual of instruction; not about the “facts” of internationalpolitics, but about the processes contained within them and derived from the reflexiveintersection between action and knowledge. And this is what made practical realism an “openended tradition,” where international politics reflected the dynamic interplay of instrumentalpower politics amid hermeneutic interpretation. History, in other words, was explained as“process,” the outcome of coaction among agents (or as Ashley termed then subjectivities)operative within tradition, and not as the mechanistic effects of metaphysically conceived“systems” or “structures.” Indeed, this is what made “practical realism” and, ergo, Morgenthau’ sibid, p.214.Page 159approach attractive to Ashley; their refusal to foreclose history through any kind of structuralistdeterminism. Instead, the “partial autonomy” implicit in “practical realism” allowed “room forpractical action,” which, in Ashley’s view, was coterminous with an emancipatory logic andreflective progress.78The distinction between “practical” and “technical realism” was important for Ashley,since the former did not portend to trans-historical foundationalism, truth, certitude, or “fact.”“Practical realism” understood “fact and “reality” as merely historical dialogical readings, andtheoretical-narratives as historical documents of interpretation. Ashley, for example, remindedus of Morgenthau’s contention that “no fixed, once-and-for-all operational definition” of“power and national interest” was possible. The contents, characteristics, and nature of theseterms “at any moment depend upon the ‘political and cultural environments,’ the political andcultural context within which foreign policy is formulated.”79 Morgenthau, as Ashley waskeen to point out, simply recognized that things change, that history was not just repetitionwith new players, that knowledge was not immutable, and that “fact” and “reality” were asmuch determined by one’s cultural, aesthetic, and historical vantage point, as they were bysupposedly “objectifying” forms of reason.Against this belief, however, Ashley confronted the dominance of “technical realism,”where a “very considerable proportion of North American international politicsresearch...[hadj...been tidily confined within the logic of economy.” Neo-functional integrationtheory, along with “[d]eterrence theory, game theory, and so-called ‘strategic thinking,” for78 ibid, p.222. A more through discussion of “practical realism” can be found in Ashley, R.K., (1984), op.cit,pp.264-281.Hans Morgenthau as quoted by Ashley, ibid p.214.Page 160example, “operated entirely within the model of technical rational action;” a condition Ashleydepicted as the “economization of politics.”80 His opposition to this stemmed from a wellestablished intellectual tradition. Morgenthau, for instance, had objected to the use “of the toolsof modern economic analysis.. .to understand international relations. In such a theoreticalscheme,” he had written, “nations confront each other not as living historic entities with alltheir complexities but as rational abstractions, after the model of ‘economic man.”8’Beforehim Edward Carr had also addressed the “illusion of a divorce between politics and economics”and of the infusion of economic rationality into the study of political phenomena. Indeed, Carrhad insisted that “economic forces” were “in fact political forces.”82 Similarly, the masterlystudy by Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation, traced the tumultuous consequences of aworld turned upside-down, where: “[i]nstead of economy being embedded in social relations,social relations...[were]...embedded in the economic system.”83 For Polanyi, this “GreatTransformation” was tantamount to the usurping of social needs in the name of economicrationality with consequences that obliterated international order, first in the “Great Depression”of the 1 930s and then its political ramifications in Germany and world war. Ashley did nomore than take his lead from these three theorists in particular, seeing “economism” and its80 Ashley, R.K., (1983), “Three Modes of Economism,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.27,No.4,December, p.480, & Ashley R.K., (1984), op.cit, p.279.81 Hans Morgenthau as quoted in Ashley, R.K., (1984), op.cit, p.279.82 Carr further noted that: “Economics can be treated neither as a minor accessory of history, nor as anindependent science in the light of which history can be interpreted.” And noted that: “Much confusion wouldbe saved by a general return to the term ‘political economy.” See Carr, E.H., (1964), The Twenty Years Crisis,1919-1939. New York: Harper & Row, pp.114-120.83 Polanyi, K., (1968), The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time.Boston: Beacon Press, p.57.Page 161theoretical offsprings of rational choice theory and neorealism (or “technical realism”),manifestations of a single nemesis — technical rationality. All these, he said, derived from a“technical cognitive interest,” which remains “the knowledge-constitutive interest of theempirical-analytic sciences” expressed as positivism.84 The objective of his project hadtherefore to be a thorough critique of positivism, especially its pretence to “science,” empirical“value-free” knowledge, and its vapid manifestations in structuralist and reductionisteconomistic theory.Ashley’s main target in this undertaking was Kenneth Waltz and his work, Theory ofInternational Politics.85 Ashley chastised Waltz’s instrumentalist approach to theory, wherea theory’s usefulness was assessed in terms of its “capacities to orient purposive-rationalattempts to exert control over an objecfl/led reality.” Waltz clearly displayed a “technicalcognitive interest,” for example, when he noted: “The urge to explain is not born of idlecuriosity alone. It is produced also by the desire to control, or at least to know if control ispossible.”86 This conception of “theory” was said to conceal a deeper “political significance”that, by making theoretical endeavour conditional upon purposive-rational control, established“expectations as to the kinds of research practices that were warranted, comprehensible,appropriate, and worthy of community [read financial and institutional] support.”87“Appropriate” or “legitimate” theory sought to solve problems and enhance control, while84 Ashley, R.K., (1981), op.cit, p.208.85 See Waltz, K.N., (1979), Theory of International Politics. New York: Random House.86 Kenneth N. Waltz as quoted in Ashley, R.K., (1981), op.cit, p.217.87 Ashley, R.K., (1983), “The Eye of Power: The Politics of World Modelling,” International Organization,Vol.37,No.3, Summer, p.528.Page 162inappropriate theory problematized knowledge and engaged in rank speculation. Reason hadbeen reduced to “purposive rationality,” and action was now gauged “solely in terms of theefficiency of means,” disparaging “human reflective capacities” that might “transcend thetechnical interest in control.”88 The root of this problem derived from neorealism’ s positivistepistemology. As Ashley noted, “Neorealist theory...[was]...theory of, by, and forpositivists.”89 And positivist epistemology, or more precisely the technical rationality inherentin positivism, tended to “inhabit the domain of the ‘is’ rather than the domain of the ‘ought”where its “truth” required no “normative defense.”9°Hermeneutic reflection or interpretation,questions of values or issues of epistemology or ontology, therefore, could be jettisoned frompositivist discourse. This was also true of neorealists who deflected criticism of their projectby limiting “the range of theories about society that [could] be scientifically entertained.”91Indeed, they could simply dismiss, or more easily ignore criticisms that derived fromphilosophic “what ought to be” type arguments, asserting instead that their theoretical purviewconcerned only the “facts” of international politics and questions of “what is.” The “purpose”of theory was thus self-evident. As Waltz noted; “[b]y a theory the significance of the observedis made manifest.”92 Theory had only to bring parsimonious order to the complexity of “facts’88 Ashley, R.K., (1981), op.cit, p.235.89 Ashley, R.K., (1984), “The Poverty of Neorealism,” in Keohane, R.O., (ed.), Neorealism and its Critics.New York: Columbia University Press, p.248.90 ibid, p.250.91 ibid.Waltz, K.N., (1986), “Laws and Theories,” in Keohane, R.O., (ed.), Neorealism and its Critics. New York:Columbia University Press, p.37.Page 163and “phenomena” that constituted international politics, and, by virtue of this knowledge,influence and control over them might be extended.Ashley’s more immediate criticism of Waltz, however, rested on his rejection ofstructuralism. More precisely, it rested on the duplicitous way Waltz had fused aninstrumentalist, utilitarian, positivist conception of theory to a structuralist understanding ofinternational politics. Waltz, he claimed, had used a form of structuralist sophistry by assumingthe “state” to be “ontologically prior to the international system,” and by ascribing to the statea generative structuralism in the creation of the international system and the condition ofanarchy.93 This was no more than an instance of “statist economism,” where states wereinfused with a technical-economic rationality and the international system was said to be “anemergent property, a consequence of the coaction of a multiplicity of unitary, complete, andegoistic states oriented according to the logic of raison d’etat.94 This argument, of course,Ashley thought fallacious. The “state-as-actor assumption,” the epistemological linchpin ofneorealist theory, was merely “a metaphysical commitment prior to science and exempted fromscientific criticism.” Indeed, despite its pretensions to “science,” neorealist theory rested entirelyon normative supposition: the ontological presumption of the “state-as-actor” which, despiteits ontological centrality, remained an un-theorized category. In fact, this “neorealist move” wasSee Ashley, R.K., (1984), op.cit, pp.238-242. See also, Ashley, R.K., (1983), “Three Modes ofEconomism,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.27,No.4, December, pp.483.Ashley, R.K., (1983), “Three Modes of Economism,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol.27,No.4,December, p.48 1.Page 164“a sleight of hand, for despite its statism, “neorealism. . . [could].. .produce no theory of the statecapable of satisfying the state-as-actor premises of its international political theory.”95Ashley also thought Waltz’s inverted structuralist assumptions illogical. For example,once the utilitarian-rationalist state-as-actor (the parts) had generated the anarchic internationalsystem (the whole), the logic of Waltz’s generative structuralism—-the causal effects of theparts upon the whole — ceased to operate. In fact, Waltz inverted this structuralist causality,granting to the anarchic international system “absolute predominance over the parts.”96 Ashleywas thus the first to identify what others would come subsequently to recognise, that Waltz’sneorealism suffered from ontological confusion and contradiction, emasculating cause andeffect beneath a top-heavy structuralism after having explained the process a bottomup — generative — structuralism, and all of this premised upon the ontological assumption of thestate. But perhaps Waltz’s greatest mistake, for Ashley at least, lay in the way he depictedstructure as ontologically independent of its generating agents —human subj ectivities.Neorealism denied the “historical significance of practice, the moment at which men andwomen enter with greater or lesser degrees of consciousness into the making of their world.”No longer were men and women free agents, but “some idealized homo oeconomicus, able onlyAshley, R.K., (1984), op.cit, pp.239 & 248. See also the discussion in Keyman, E.F., (1994),“Problematizing the State in International Theory,” in Sjolander, C.T., & Cox, W.S., (eds.), Beyond Positivism:Critical Reflections on International Relations, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, pp.153-181.96 Kenneth N. Waltz as quoted in Ashley, R.K., (1984), op.cit, p.256. The problem of “generativestructuralism,” and of Waltz’s structuralist thesis is addressed eloquently by Wendt, A.E., (1987), “The Agent-Structure problem in International Relat