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The Evolution Of Global International Societies Politics Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 2838 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In this paper I would discuss the evolution of global international society during First World War, Second World War and Post Cold War period and how does it reflect itself in present times especially in three area viz- In International Organizations, In international civil society and In market economy.

Social relations that is, the countless and complex ways in which the people interact with and affect each other are more and more being conducted and organized on the basis of a planetary unit. As historically and conventionally understood, international relations are relations of territorially based political groups. If we arrive at a definition of “international society”, it stands for relations between politically organized human groupings which occupy distinctive territories and enjoy and exercise a measure of independence of each other. [1] In the language of international relations, such detached communities are referred to as ‘states’ which are usually conceptualized as consisting of – 1.) permanent population, 2.) occupying a definite territory, 3.) which is under a central government and 4.) which is sovereign. Hedley Bull [2] defines international society as ” a society of states exists when a group of states, conscious of certain common interests and common values, form a society in the sense that they conceive themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations with one another. It is pertinent to distinguish globalization from internationalization here. Globalization refers to all those processes by which the people of the world are incorporated into a single world society i.e. a global society. Globalization is thus an ongoing trend whereby the world has become one relatively borderless social sphere. Globalization can also be indicated by terms like liberalization, universalization and deterritorialization. On the other hand internationalization refers to a process of intensifying connections between national domains. In international relations, countries are divided from each other by clearly marked frontiers as well as by substantial time that is generally required to cover the distance between their respective territories. Whereas global phenomenon can extend across the world at the same time and can move between places in no time, in the sense they have a supra-territorial and transnational character. While patterns of international interdependence are strongly influenced by nation- state divisions, the lines of global interconnections often have little correspondence to territorial boundaries.

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The first phase of evolution of international society can be traced back from the year 1900, in which the world was dominated by a small group of economically prosperous and populous European states, whose empires encompassed much of the globe. The internal roots of Europe’s instability dated back to 1870s, when the continent’s relative tranquility was disturbed by the creation of a single unified German state as a result of Napoleonic wars. The unified Germany’s expansion ambitions for territory and markets were a cause of concern for Britain, France and Tsarist Russia, emerging in an attempt to halt Germany. Britain and France dominated Asia, Africa and Middle East, Russia in Japan and Britain competed in China while U.S. held sway in Latin America. This disruption of balance of power in combination of imperial, nationalist and economic tension ultimately resulted in the First World War in 1914. The alliance system built up was Austria, Hungary and Germany on one side and Britain, France and Russia on the other. The war finally ended with the gathering of peacemakers at Versailles in 1919. This was the first instance of inception of global international society taking shape to maintain peace in post war period. It is to be noticed here that at Versailles the guiding force was not one or more of the European powers but the United States. It is at this time the principle of “self-determination” came up prominently. Future wars were to be deterred by the League of Nations, which would take “collective action” against aggressor states. Finally, Germany was found guilty of having begun the war as a result it lost its land to Poland and France, it was disarmed and reparations were to be made to the victorious powers. However, many critics like Taylor found that Versailles was not hard enough. The German problem was unresolved as Germany still remained the largest unitary state in the heart of Europe. Moreover, Germany’s potential to wage war had not been absolutely destroyed. Thus, the treaty of Versailles seemed to fail in the absence of any major power committed to upholding it.

Then comes the second phase of the evolution of international society that is the Second World War, whose origin can be traced from the Great Depression of 1929 caused by the stock market crash in America. The global impact of the shock waves of crash illustrates the degree to which states in the inter-war years were not entirely autonomous entities. Its symptoms like spiraling inflation, collapse of consumer demand in industrial countries, decline in manufacturing industry, massive unemployment concluded that globalization in economic terms, was a potent reality. In wake of such economic turmoil, Japan in order to find new markets, raw material and land for it’s population began expansion into China. Between 1931-33, Japan consolidated its hold over Manchuria. By 1937, Japan was at war with China which caused worsening relations with U.S. ultimately leading to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. On the other hand in Europe, the Nazi territorial expansionism under Hitler went beyond the provisions of Treaty of Versailles. Confronted with numerous international crises in China and Europe, Britain and France adopted a policy of appeasing Hitler. But in March 1939 appeasement was abandoned once Germany invaded Poland and Britain and France declared war on Germany. Alliance of Britain, France, America and USSR came together to fight Axis powers of Japan, Italy and Germany. The Second World War was unquestionably global in scope ending the era of European domination of the world. The U.S. put the full stop on war by using its might and dropping atom bomb on Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The end of Second World War led to the third phase of evolution i.e. the onset of Cold War between Soviet and America. The failure to implement principles agreed at the wartime and issues concerning the failure of Germany and Poland grew tension between wartime allies. The expansion of Soviet towards Eastern Europe and American opposition to it, American military deployment in Britain and signing of NATO Treaty in 1949 were some of the key issues in cold war. Agreements on limiting and controlling the growth of nuclear arsenals have played an important role in Soviet- American relations. A set of treaties like START-1 and START-2 marked the end of cold war and laid down the ground for cordial relations between disintegrated Russia and America.

From the above discussion it can be inferred that whenever any crises has arisen in the past, be it political, social or financial, various states transcending their territorial boundaries have come forward unitedly to counter it. The era of colonialism and imperialism is done away with and the world does not have any one central power like Europe, U.S or Russia now. The global trends have replaced the unipolar world structure to that of multipolar world structure. The present world order has undergone tremendous transformation by changing global patterns of international organizations, issues of universal concern, global civil society, humanitarian issues, trade and economy and many more which we will discuss in forthcoming paragraphs.

The very first consolidation of international society made itself evident in the form of United Nations Organization which took birth after the havoc of Second World War. The main objective of UN is to maintain international peace and order and to prevent situations leading to war by means of pacific settlement. The basic principle adopted by the member states was of self-determination. Presently the membership of UN is up to 192, which clearly signifies it as a forum where all countries whether small or big, powerful or weak, developed or underdeveloped interact with each other and manifest themselves as a global community. International Court of Justice, UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR etc. some of the organs of UN having varied work fields. Peace keeping missions, economic sanctions on erring states and the right to self defense are some such distinctive features of the organization which keep intact the principle of self-determination. But critics often raise the question mark upon the decisions taken by UN as a representative and collective world body. The imbalanced sharing of decision making power at the executive body of UN i.e. Security Council clearly manifest the hegemony of superpowers like U.S., U.K., China, Russia and France. Waging Iraq war, Gulf war, Palestine and Israel crisis, Afghanistan problem in the name of maintaining international peace and security is the mockery and exclusion of international society in the real sense. Similar is the case with international financial organizations like IMF and WB. IMF was created to promote international monetary cooperation and resolve the inter-war economic problems. The IMF now has a membership of 183 countries each of whom contribute a quota of resources to the organization proportionate to the size of their economy which also determines their percentage of voting rights and the amount of resources to which they can have automatic access to. Although it would be wrong to out rightly negate the role played by them in the infrastructure development, poverty reduction, raising living standards but down the line the practices of protectionism and favourism followed by superpowers have hampered its functioning. The frequent failure of WTO round of talks due to widening divide between the developed and developing is not a different story. The international organizations most of the times end up being super power organizations.

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In the age of globalization the structure of nation state has undergone tremendous transformation. The relevance of geographical boundaries has fainted and the world has become a borderless entity. This aspect of globalization has led to the formulation of local issues like poverty, hunger and development etc. into global concerns. The other most important issues of global concern are environment, terrorism, gender inequality and human right violations. To tackle such wide range of issues, the international society manifests itself broadly as non-state actors and particularly as global civil society, voluntary organizations, intergovernmental organizations and international non-governmental organizations. Such organizations are the source of new political and social change. Red Cross, Amnesty International, World Social Forum, Cry are some such bandwagons which raise the local issues to international forums and play an important part in designing policies affecting the lives of billions of people across the world. Especially the gender issues of violence, inhuman treatment, lack of opportunities, female foeticide, trafficking of women and children are now concerns of every country of the world and are redressed as never before. Owing to the efforts of such civil society groups the awareness of human rights has become a global phenomenon. The universalization and homogenization of globe has made the whole world as their work field.

The discourse on globalization would remain incomplete without the mention of global market patterns after the end of cold war. This era can be recognized as an era of triumph which swept away all the barriers to the operation of the market around the world and transformed the character of international politics. Now the governments have reduced their military spending and started making their markets efficient and open as per the growing needs. New technologies, computerization and communication provides opportunity for small business and individual entrepreneurs, empowering excluded persons and social groups. The state monopoly is reduced, the culture of multinationals and transnationals is strengthening the universal labor standards and unions are more organized to stand against exploitation at larger level. The rise of giant corporations and cartels serve as new modes of social control and regulation. Post-industrialist theorists like Daniel Bell call the present society as “information society” and present age as “technocapitalism”. According to J. Baudrillard [3] technology and capitalism have permeated every aspect of society. While Gilder [4] , Gates [5] and Friedman [6] defend technology as legitimizing capitalism on the other hand Heideggar call it a complete Europianization of the earth and man. Critics however characterize global capitalism by a decline of the state and increased power of the market and globalised transnational corporations. Hence both negative and positive versions of economic determinism exist.

From the above discourse we can infer that pro globalization theorists hold a view that global international society has undergone a shift to be called as a global community. One glaring example that is often quoted by them is of its consolidated expression was visible after the Sept. 11 attack in U.S. where the whole world stood against and pledged to eradicate terrorism from the world. Several such examples can be cited and the recent is of democratic triumph in Egypt which was appraised and supported by global society. It is also true that the natural calamity of Japan will also reflect itself in its economic relations. I also agree that in the present age of globalization the world has emerged as a single entity and events happening in one part of the world within no time affect the other parts of the globe as well. But according to me, it would be wrong to say that in the age of globalization the world has become borderless and free of divisions. Although, its true that we have done away with imperialism and colonization but what about categorization of the world community on the lines of developed, developing and underdeveloped nations? Would it be right to call Sudan, Lebanon and Bangladesh as globalised nations? Are these countries the flag marchers of globalization? No, I think certainly not. The poor are still poor and the hungry are still hungry. The situation of underdeveloped and least developed nations in South-Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa still holds a pathetic picture. Developed countries regard poverty as something external to them and a defining feature of third world. In recent decades global food production has burgeoned but paradoxically hunger and malnourishment remain widespread. Access and entitlements are affected by factors such as North- South divide, rural – urban divides, class, gender and race. World economy is not global rather trade, investment and financial flows are concentrated in and between 3 blocks- Europe, North America and Japan. It is also correct that globalization is very uneven in its effects. Internet, telephones are still distant dreams for least developed countries. Critics also noted that outcome of globalization allows more efficient exploitation of less well off nations, by bodies like IMF, WB and WTO and technologies are designed to benefit richest economies.

Thus, it can be concluded that present form of international society has acquired a more global outreach but paradoxically the balance of power is still tilted towards the developed economies. To balance this equation the state actors like government, diplomats, politicians as well as non-state actors like civil society, voluntary groups, MNCs and TNCs etc. should work with the principle of social welfare of every single poor hungry person irrespective of his national identity. Then only the world will become a global village in a real sense.


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