Blaney & Inayatullah  2000
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Blaney & Inayatullah 2000

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of international society and the common life of a political com-
munity in that the nations interpenetrate instead of being clearly bounded, and
each nation possesses some of the prerogatives of sovereignty but not others
(see also Lijphart 1977:9, 49). In this scenario, the cultural reproduction of
groups is partly disconnected from the tight linkage of identity and territory.
Thus, sovereignty can be divided such that it is exercised by different agents:
jointly on some matters governing the entire territory; separately on others that
concern only a certain region; or involving overlapping and competing juris-
dictions, where the final authority can be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.
Here, sovereignty is no longer a homogenous substance; it may be divided and
distributed to create complex, if not continually negotiable, jurisdictional

If consociational regimes suggest the “thickness” and “complexity” that
might accompany the coexistence of nations, the “neutral” arrangements of the
settler society move in the opposite direction, thinning domestic society. The
purported neutrality of these constitutional arrangements at least partly aban-
dons the “thickness” definitive of the “inside” by treating domestic society as
something like a “thin” pact of mutual accommodation among competing groups.
What is most striking here is that “thin” coexistence seems no longer to require
the containment of difference behind boundaries. “Self” and “other,” both within

21That consociational arrangements are ultimately unsuccessful is disputed by Arend
Lijphart (1977). Rather, he suggests that such arrangements should give us some opti-
mism about the possibility of democratic rule in ethnically divided societies.

The Westphalian Deferral 53

and beyond political communities, can, in principle at least, negotiate certain
commonalities that promote more peaceful interaction.

Thus, in both consociational and settler regimes, and in other mixed modes
we could imagine, political arrangements operate in a space where the “other”
is no longer securely contained behind a boundary, where difference must be
faced, discussed, and negotiated. As perhaps hinted by Bull, this space of nego-
tiation, ruled out by the Westphalian deferral as impossibly dangerous and unsta-
ble, now seems open for exploration.

Conclusion: Beyond Splitting and
the Westphalian Deferral
Strong habits of mind and deeply rooted impulses counsel and compel us to
rule out this space for engaging and negotiating difference. The “purifying
hatred” of the Thirty Years’ War reminds us just how calamitous unbridled
political idealism can be. We are reminded too that such events leave scars—
not just on the psyches of survivors, but also on the tone and substance of the
social theory produced in their wake. Exploring the events leading up to West-
phalia permits us, then, a clearer understanding of the deep anxieties and sense
of opportunities that informed the social theory shaping and legitimating a
nascent international society. Where difference is understood (and felt) as a
source of danger and disorder, an ethical and stable social order demands
a homogenous way of life and constitutional uniformity. A system of sovereign
states appears, then, as an opportunity to separate and contain difference, to
make possible a modus vivendi among externalized differences that works to
secure internal sameness. Given this legacy, it is little wonder that the warnings
and prescriptions of international relations have blinded us to the benefits and
opportunities afforded by an engagement with difference.

This overwhelming anxiety and the almost exclusive preoccupation with
the threats posed by the “other” direct us to certain clues about the underlying
source of this anxiety and preoccupation. It is worth repeating Jessica Ben-
jamin’s point that the process of splitting involves breaking down a complex
and differentiated whole, parceling out its assumed positive qualities to “self”
and the negative qualities to “other.” The psychological purpose of splitting,
Benjamin (1988:222–23) suggests, is an attempt to escape from uncertainty,
ambiguity, and doubt, and thereby evade “the necessity of dealing with the
contradictory tendencies within the self.” 22 Thus, when the Moravian Hutter-
ites and the Styrian subjects of Ferdinand lament their treatment at the hands of
fellow Christians, comparing them unfavorably with Turks and Tartars, per-

22 Compare with Nandy (1983).

54 Blaney and Inayatullah

haps more is being said than we initially realize. By inverting the polarities of
the familiar splitting of Christian and heathen, they achieve a kind of clarity.
We would like to read it this way: the real target of a “purifying hatred” within
an “empire of uniformity” is not so much the “other” beyond oneself—Turks or
Tartars outside “Europe,” or Protestants or Catholics within—but a doubt or
moment of difference internal to the “self.” The tendency is to refuse that doubt—
that ambiguity or internal “other”—as our own and to externalize and personify
it as a projection onto the “other.” The illusion is that we have cleansed our-
selves and set doubt to rest.

Herein lays the problem and the hope. Hope may be found in that the “other”
is revealed not simply as a “natural” enemy or inevitable antagonist, but as an
external representation of a disturbing internal doubt. Facing the uncertainty
and ambiguity generated by acknowledging the overlap of “self” and “other” is
no less daunting a task in our time, just because (implicitly) identified already
by survivors of the Thirty Years’ War. As their incisive remarks approach their
400th year, what more can we offer? What tools do we possess that get us
beyond the splitting of “inside/outside” and the Westphalian deferral? We will
make three brief points.

First, we find in our readings of Bull and Walzer various moments of an
argument that take us beyond the splitting of “inside/outside.” We draw on Bull
and Walzer to suggest that international society is not exhaustive of the possi-
bilities for responding to difference, but is a particular culture or regime that
coexists with other conceptions of global social and political space. Our read-
ing of Walzer points more specifically to the competition and mixture of “thin”
and “thick” ethical discourses and institutional arrangements available for both
domestic and international space, such that we cannot fully distinguish the two
spheres of life. Where the problem of difference can no longer be contained by
the splitting of “inside/outside,” we should come to think of local, national,
regional, and global social and political spaces as sites in which difference is
explored, negotiated, and perhaps celebrated. It does not follow that we should
therefore privilege a discourse of globalist ethics or the human interest. That is,
confronting the problem of difference as central to world politics is not to be
interpreted as a call for a project of global homogenization. We should continue
to heed Bull’s and Walzer’s warnings about the problem of imposing “global”
purposes on an unwilling “humanity.” Heeding this warning does not rule out
altogether the possibility of genuine global agreement on certain, perhaps many,
issues. Nor does the possibility of global agreement guarantee a cosmopolitan
outcome. Any genuine conversation presupposes an internal tolerance of the
anxiety that results from, and a nurturing of the ambiguity required for, expos-
ing one’s views to potential criticism from the “other.” Agreement can only be
worked out over time in a conversation that engages both “self” and “other” in
a process of reflection on the common and divergent values that inform the

The Westphalian Deferral 55

effort to live both joint and disparate projects (Blaney and Inayatullah 1994;
Parekh 1996).

Second, in such a global conversation, the “other” stands not simply as an
antagonist, but also as a resource for self-reflecting, learning, and designing