Annotated Bibliography of Contra Wight: the Errors of a Premature Writing, the Eighty Years’ Crisis, 1919-1999—Power, and Communism, Fascism and Counter-Revolution in World Politics.

Topics: Power in international relations, International relations, Sociology Pages: 6 (1957 words) Published: March 10, 2013
Hirst, P. (1998). The eighty years’ crisis, 1919-1999—power. England: Cambridge University Press.

  In this chapter, the author examined and enumerated the different types of power conceptualized during that eight decade gap. Paul Hirst started off with the most dominant concept of power using Bertrand Russell’s “Power: A new social Analysis”(1938) as a direct reference. He explained three main aspects of power in the social sciences; Power as a factor in the relations between actors, power as a simple quantitative capacity thus making it as a competition, and lastly, power as a zero-sum game.

  Then he moved on to Hindess’ analysis of power as a simple given quantity. He believed that power can only be achieved by the ruler of a political community if he/she is duly recognized by the citizens as their leader. This has been the central idea of modern international relations thinking. But it is still a part of the capacity-outcome view of power which Hindess is trying to ignore due to its simplicity. He enumerated the reasons why a capacity-outcome view weaken its right as an explanatory device based on Hindess. First is that power is an interaction and one in which the reciprocal action of the parties’ means that each actor’s moves conditions the action of the other, and the different means to exercise ‘power’ are seldom compatible.   

The author also mentioned a famous political philosopher and sociologist that touched the topics explaining power relations like Talcott Parsons and Michael Foucault to show their own views of the topic. As a sociologist, Parsons considered power as a property of the social system and it is a medium for mobilizing resources.Still it will end as a zero-sum game and at the same time actors may mutually benefit from the increase of power within the social system. For Focault, power is productive and not merely negative, does not merely compel subjects to submit to the will of another and is applied to transform both the nature of actors and their capacity for action.

  He also tackled the concepts of power in “The Twenty Years’ Crisis” by E.H.Carr. This part started with a brief explanation of the context when this book was written. It was also said that the international system was trying to pursue a realist and utopianist ideology. Carr saw that international monetary regimes, trade, and investment was used to the advantage of some countries. This resulted to challenging other political philosopher, theorist and sociologist to rethink their “illusions”. He divided power into three categories: Military power, economic power, and power over opinion.

  Today, power is seen not as quantitative but rather qualitative. Manipulation of power is completely appropriate on economic doctrines, analysis and policy measures.    


  I agree to the concepts of power introduced in this journal. Parsons considered power as a public property in his book “On the concept of Political Power”(1969) so every negative effect of power handling will be the fault of its bearer. The type of government need not be democratic just like what happened during the french revolution wherein the peasants and the urban workers waged war against the monarchs. Though technically basing on the hierarchy of power, the king must be the most powerful but what happened during that epic revolution provided enough proof that the people or citizens of the nation is the one who truly holds the power superior to anybody inside the country.

   Economy and politics will always come with power and international relation so it is a must that people must learn how to use it responsibly. Unless we want an autarchic and an anarchic nation, wielding power and in this case realism to our favor is needed. Power, between states, can also be achieved unconsciously through striving to gain growth and development in the global economy. This was called Liberalism. How can countries be economically balanced if only a single...
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