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Rethinking International Relations

Bertrand Badie

In this thought-provoking book, Bertrand Badie argues that the traditional paradigms of international relations are no longer sustainable, and that ignorance of these shifting systems and of alternative models is a major source of contemporary international conflict and disorder. Through a clear examination of the political, historical and social context, Badie illuminates the challenges and possibilities of an ‘intersocial’ and multilateral approach to international relations.
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Chapter 5: States in question

Bertrand Badie


The traditional concept of the state needs to be revisited, as it is commonly and too simply considered as a synonym of political system. However, it has particularities, historical and cultural roots, while it is currently challenged by many other kinds of political order and does not match all the historical lineages of politics. In its European conception, it is tightly related to territory, sovereignty, and power competition which was likened by Hobbes to a “gladiator struggle.” This chapter asks: is this competition nowadays as obvious as it was previously? Has the state kept its original capacity? Or, has power become powerless? Is hegemony still possible? How can we then understand the so-called “resilience of the state”? How to revisit the main orientations of the subsequent foreign policy? How can “weakness politics” sometimes take the place of the well-known “power politics”?

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