Monday, 3 May 2010

In this article Roger D. Master use a set of comparison to explore the structure and functioning of the international system.

He started with an argument why it is important to compare international politics with primitive political system. Depart from this argument he further give three important reasons which, firstly, as an attempt to bridge the gap between political science and anthropology, since the political aspects of primitive society have often been imperfectly analyzed. Secondly, in the history of political philosophy, the idea of ‘state of nature’ play important role in shaping the political system, although political anthropologist regard the notion of ‘state of nature’ never existed. Thirdly, the concept of diplomacy in primitive society would have to comprehend the rivalry and warfare in the primitive society.
II. Similarities between Primitive and International Politics:

There are four common elements that exist in the primitive society and international politics:
  • The absent of formal government with the power to judge and those who violate the law.
  • The use of violence and with ‘self-help’ by the help of members of the system to gain their objective or to enforce obligation.
  • The lack of formal legislative body operating on the basis of making genera rules. Where the accepted laws and regulation mainly derived from customs and traditions.
  • The established political units serving many functions in the overall social system, it refers as ‘fused system’ which single structure performs all the necessary functions.
III. Self help and violence in primitive stateless societies:

In stateless societies, the disputes were not referred to an impartial government backed by a police force. Disputes were settled by “self help”. In self help, the individual or any group feels injured considers it’s for himself legitimately responsible for punishing a crime or penalizing a tort.

In primitive societies, violence usually takes the form of sporadic surprise attacks by individual or small groups. Sometimes in primitive societies, violence became a civilized war. In primitive societies violence was settled through by the opposed groups recognize an obligation to settle their dispute.

There were different methods to settle their disputes through “go- between”. It was just like an office which serves the function of feuds on the basis of compensation. There were other methods through “jural community”. Violence was the part of life of primitive stateless societies; it can be emerge at any time, even in the absence of a formal dispute. With respect to the role of violence in inter group conflicts there are some similarities between primitive stateless and international political system.

In both systems, there is a range of social relationship which is relatively exempt from self perpetuating violence. In both types of systems, intermitted, violent conflict between nuclear groups (that share common interest) can be temporarily settled without removing the potentiality of further attacks. Violence is justified in the eyes of the aggressive group because the legal system permits self help as a means of enforcing one’s rights. While the punished group denies this justification, therefore, there is a tendency for a conflict to erupt into an exchange of hostilities.

These similarities indicate that the analogy between political system without governments and international politics rely on the imagination rather then on reason. Both seems to belong to a general class of political system in which self help or violence is an accepted and legitimate mode of procedure.

IV. Order in Primitive Stateless societies:

In primitive stateless societies, the anarchy of social life without governmental procedures was just like a violent war of all against all. In primitive societies violence serves as the function of maintaining law and order according to customary procedures. As the lack of higher authority that will regulate them, therefore, it was an emphasis on the competitive relationship of opposed groups.

In primitive societies, retaliation was a means of maintaining the well being of an offended group and of responding to a specific wrong. Unintentionally or unconsciously self help serves to preserve and unite a group which has been threatened by another to fix responsibility for wrongs and thus to maintain a legal order. In primitive society there was no government, therefore, retaliation and the threat of violence serve to unite social groups and maintain legal or moral criteria of right and wrong.

V. International politics as primitive stateless system:

A writer says that the utility of a comparison between international affairs and stateless primitive societies is shown by two characteristics similarities.
  • Firstly, the relation of law to violence as a means of organizing a coherent social system and
  • Secondly, the relationship of custom to rivalry and bargaining as a means of making and applying known rules.
The main purpose of the comparison with stateless primitive peoples serves the useful purpose of identifying the characteristics properties of a political system in which law is sanctioned by self-help.

These primitive political systems which lacking governmental institutions, custom and bargaining are related in a crucial way, since they are the methods for establishing enforceable rules. The same can be said of the international political system, that it too lacks an authoritative legislature or an all powerful executive.

VI. Some differences between primitive and international political systems

It is says that Stateless primitive political system resemble the international political system in numerous ways, but there is a need to distinguish those aspects in which world politics is unique from those that are due to the absence of a formally constituted world government. Mainly there are two main differences between primitive and international politics.
  • Firstly, the role of political culture which now exists is totally different from the primitive stateless society.
  • Secondly, the impact of change. The stateless structure of a primitive political system may be tolerably stable, despite the reliance upon self-help enforcement while comparing with current international political system; it may well lead to chaos.

VII Conclusion:

By comparing primitive stateless societies with international political system provides a substantive insights and theoretical framework to understand world politics. By comparing, it become easy to understand how in primitive stateless societies were existed with particular type of system. It becomes also aware by comparing both above systems that the primitive and stateless society’s functions are same and how there was ordered anarchy without government. We become aware that society has passed many phases to get the contemporary State of global Politics.

For further reading you can get this article from http://www.jstor.org/pss/2009448



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