Blaney & Inayatullah  2000
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Blaney & Inayatullah 2000

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of evasion or
deferral\u2014less a direct effort to acknowledge, confront, and explore the diver-
sity of human existence than an attempt to contain and manage difference within
the newly erected boundaries of states. Westphalian arrangements thus have
served only to secure the persistence, salience, and centrality of the problem of
difference in international society: as an enduring diversity within national bound-
aries, as a diversity that spills inevitably across boundaries, and as conflict
between \u201cimagined\u201d nations.
We argue that the intellectual legacy of the period is likewise limiting. As
do similar fears in our own time, the chaos and destruction of the period pro-
duced a proportionately intense demand for order, safety, and certainty. An
overriding demand for stability in society at large spurred the dominant
seventeenth-century project of discovering unassailable knowledge of natural
and social order\u2014a social theory and practice beyond the dangers and doubts a
confrontation with difference creates. Just as the Westphalian settlement attempted
to sidestep the uncertainties and conflicts accompanying difference, the intel-
lectual discourse arising under the shadow of the Thirty Years\u2019 War denigrated
the positive potentials of difference, tightly tying it to chaos and strife. Thus the
heritage of political thought bequeathed to us by this period\u2014from Descartes
to Hobbes, Grotius, and Locke\u2014tends to base social order and political peace
on relative religious and cultural homogeneity and a strict political uniformity.
Returning explicitly to the present, we argue in section three that we con-
tinue to live with the consequences of this deferral or evasion. The contempo-
rary theory and practice of the Westphalian system\u2014or \u201cinternational society\u201d
as we will generally call it\u2014functions primarily to reinforce this suspicion of
difference. In international society, the \u201cother\u201d is located outside, beyond the
boundaries of the state. Within the state, a realm of relative \u201csameness\u201d is
presumed\u2014the kind of commonality we associate with the idea of political
community or the body politic. But the problem of difference remains, if obscured
or repressed. The \u201cother\u201d lurks as a perpetual threat in the form of separate
political communities or as difference within, vitiating the presumed but rarely,
if ever, achieved \u201csameness.\u201d Against the presumption of domestic commonal-
ity, difference is \u201cmanaged\u201d by some combination of hierarchy, assimilation,
and tolerance in varying degrees and kinds. Difference beyond our boundaries
is left to its own means, interdicted at border crossings, and balanced and deterred.
32 Blaney and Inayatullah
Thus, though we are unable to accept the legitimacy of the kind of eradication
of difference within states originally sanctioned in the seventeenth century, the
legacy of the Westphalian deferral endures in that we remain unwilling to con-
front fully the Pandora\u2019s box of either our own domestic diversity or the world-
wide diversity of ways of life.
In large measure, this is merely a restatement of the power of the logic of
\u201cinside/outside\u201d\u2014a demarcation of global political space into distinct and mutu-
ally exclusive jurisdictions on which a society of independent sovereign states
depends (Walker 1993). The \u201cinside/outside\u201d logic thereby performs an act of
\u201csplitting,\u201d excluding the overlap of \u201cself\u201d and \u201cother\u201d (Benjamin 1988:62\u2013
63).5 Locating difference beyond the boundaries of \u201cself\u201d impedes our capacity
to fully acknowledge and affirm the \u201cother\u201d that always lies within, or to appre-
ciate and claim the \u201cself\u201d that exists as part of the \u201cother\u201d beyond these bound-
aries. That is, unless we can respond creatively to this exclusivity of \u201cself\u201d and
\u201cother,\u201d exposing and cultivating the spaces that connect \u201cself\u201d and \u201cother\u201d\u2014
the overlaps of commonality and difference\u2014we cannot find a way to allow
equality and difference to coexist. Fortunately, some theoretical and practical
avenues are already present as recessive moments within various accounts of
the contemporary meaning and workings of the Westphalian settlements. In the
concluding section of this essay, we briefly explore these avenues and their
From a Purifying Hatred to an Empire
of Uniformity
Most historians consider the Thirty Years\u2019 War\u2014and the Peace of Westphalia
that brought it to a close\u2014to be among the major events of the latter half of
the millennium. Ronald Asch (1997:7) calls the Thirty Years\u2019 War \u201cthe best
example of a political event which profoundly changed political and social
structures, and perhaps even collective mentalities.\u201d The decisiveness of these
events is sealed by the predominant view of the Peace of Westphalia as sig-
naling the move from a religious to a modern, secular world and from the
accepted, if somewhat vaporous, goal of a united Christendom to a system, or
perhaps society, of independent states (Thomson 1963:814; Pages 1970:17,
250). There is nothing foreign about this interpretation: the decisiveness of
5 Though Benjamin (1988:63) explains that \u201csplitting\u201d has a \u201cnarrow, technical use\u201d
in psychoanalytic thought, she suggests that, when applied to \u201csupraindividual\u201d pro-
cesses, it also carries a \u201cbroader metapsychological and metaphoric meaning.\u201d
The Westphalian Deferral 33
these events is asserted, if not taken for granted, by most of the field of inter-
national relations.6
This period is indeed notable for the central role played by religious con-
viction in instigating military conflict. While legal and political motivations\u2014
such as the limits of the Emperor\u2019s authority and dynastic rivalry\u2014were certainly
present, such factors took on a distinctly religious hue. Just as we today per-
ceive the ubiquity of the economic motive (whether narrowly or broadly con-
ceived), both the ruling classes and the masses of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries are said to have seen the events of their time through a distinctly
religious gaze (Thomson 1963:800; Brightwell 1979:418; Langer 1980:11; Lock-
hart 1995:1\u20132; Asch 1997:7). The religious conflict flaring up in the six-
teenth century and all but consuming the seventeenth century found its initial
spark in the Reformation\u2019s challenge to the ideological monopoly and material
power of the Catholic Church (Friedrich and Blitzer 1957:10\u201311; Van Creveld
1999:67\u201384). This challenge persisted and escalated with the spread of various
forms of Protestantism among the masses and the conversion of certain terri-
torial princes in Germany. Put in terms we introduced above, the \u201cother\u201d demand-
ing recognition was experienced as a pressing threat. Princes loyal to Catholicism
leapt to or were drawn into a defense of the Universal Church\u2014a Counter-
Reformation led by the Habsburgs, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the Papacy.
Protestants responded in kind, and both sides mobilized for war. Years of inde-
cisive hostility were brought to a temporary halt by the Peace of Augsburg
6 See, for example, Gross (1968:47), Bull (1977:27\u201338), Morgenthau (1967:299),
Herz (1959:43\u201344), Ruggie (1998:188), Linklater (1998:23\u201324), Van Creveld (1999:86,
159\u2013 60), and Spruyt (1994:178\u201379, 191\u201392). However, two kinds of protest have
arisen recently within international relations. The first, exemplified by Stephen Kras-
ner\u2019s \u201cWestphalia and All That\u201d (1993), takes aim at this narrative in order to dispute
the decisiveness of ideas in constituting the state system. His discussion of the ambi-
guities of the Peace of Westphalia\u2014its failure to break fully with the Medieval order\u2014is
instructive, though not at all sufficient to defeat the idea that theory and practice are
inextricably intertwined. His later (1999) claims that sovereignty has always been
honored in the breach, accommodating various forms of rule, is similarly important.
More telling is his conclusion (1999:235) that \u201cConstitutive rules never exclude alter-
natives.\u201d Ironically, Krasner imagines that his dissenting views about sovereignty sup-
port IR (international relations)