Long-Term Civilizing Processes within Multi-State-Civilizations. a First Step Towards an Evolutionary Sociological Approach of International Relations.

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Juridicum)
Distributed Paper
Dieter REICHER, University of Graz, Austria
At least, there are two different approaches to the term of »civilization«. Norbert Elias understood »civilization« not as a static concept but as a »process of civilization«. Elias links the long-term process of monopolization of the coercion (state-building) with a second process: the long-term refinement of manners and the control aggressive impulses. This approach is maybe helpful to understand long-term changes in patterns of violence between individuals and small groups. However, this focus bears some problems in order to understand long-term patterns of international relations. I.e., how to understand the normative structure of whole state-systems? The modern state-system or ancient state-systems evolved in the course of many centuries they are all missed a process of monopolization of coercion like sigle states.

The second approach to the term »civilization« is linked with Herders’ idea that the world consists of different »cultures« side-by-side. Thus, there are »civilizations« in the plural. Following this approach, Adam Watson and other scholars of the so-called »English School of Realism« systematically focussed on multi-state civilizations, like the early Mesopotamian system of city-states. Michael Mann developed also a comparative design in order to analyze multi-state-civilizations. However, this approach does not provide a model to link the macro- and micro relationships within such multi-states-civilizations.

Therefore, this paper tries to discuss the possibilities to combine both types of approaches. The argument will be grounded on the historical comparison between three different multi-state-civilization: a) the ancient greek system of city-states; b) the Western European networks of kingdoms, duchies, and counties; and c) the modern Western state-system that developed since the Peace of Westphalia. It will be argued that there are some common characteristic in the regulation of warfare and collective violence between these multi-state civilizations. One important characteristic is the differentiation between established political entities and outsiders.