Components of the International Political System

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16th Oct 2017 Politics Reference this

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International Political System

I. International Political System and Its Components

Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that the only thing constant in this world is change. Taking this statement, he believes that people must not only accept the changes happening, moreover, they must know how to celebrate it.[1] By trying to look around, one can clearly see the things that have changed and are continuously changing; some getting better, some becoming worse, others are mixed, name it, the world has it. Among the most common things that have changed and/or modified over the years are the value of every care the value of currency against the other, monetary inflation rate, voting behavior of people, climate, language, technology, among others. Despite the fact of these changes happening, each state has its own way of coping, mobilizing, promoting and even recreating to it and has a parallel effect to the global society.

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It is very important to recognize these changes for it will be one of the bases in order to provide answer to the question that will be solved in this paper: As of now, do we have an international political system? After thorough research and analysis, the stand of this paper acclaims that yes, as of now, we do have an international political system.

In this paper, arguments related to government structure, behavior of the populace, power, and development will be presented in order to toughen its claim that there is international political system nowadays and its presence today was brought about by the different actions of the people in the yesteryears and significant events that had happened then.

Before proceeding to the points that will strengthen the claim, it is important to unlock first the complex terms used in the formulating the question and break it into smaller ideas.

The question at hand can be divided into three parts in order to make sure that at the end, there will be a proper riposte. For the first part, the question suggests a certain time frame as to when the answer must be based on, which is the present time, “as of now,” next, a certain manifestation is being searched upon, “do we have,” and lastly, the main factor that is being considered, the “international political system.”

Since the first and second parts of the query are relating on the third one, this time, it is necessary to define the said system and explain it for this will greatly help in guiding the points that will be presented on the latter part of this paper. The term “international political system” is comprised of three different terms that carry different significant meaning in the study of Political Science and this calls for identifying each before understanding it as a single thought.

First to be identified is the system. System is the composite formed by a structured set of interacting units.[2] Unit is the entity composed of various sub groups, organizations, communities, and many individuals, sufficiently cohesive to have actor quality (i.e. to be capable of conscious decision-making), and sufficiently independent to be differentiated from others and to have standing at the higher levels (e.g. states, nations, transnational firms).[3] To highlight, it is important that the system must have interacting units, meaning, there is reciprocal action or influences between such. Otherwise, it cannot be considered as a system.

Next is politics. It might be best characterized as the constrained use of social power – the study of the nature and source of those constraints and the techniques for the use of social power within those constraints.[4] It can also be lowered to an idea of chasing interests and decisions. Whenever an individual is faced with choices or when a state is choosing to possible decisions on issue of just and unjust for the populace, they fall to the same ground, politics.

To be given meaning lastly is the term international. This term was fashioned by Jeremy Bentham and he footnoted in his work that the word international, it must be acknowledged, is a new one; though, it is hoped, sufficiently analogous and intelligible. It is calculated to express, in a more significant way, the branch of the law which goes commonly under the name of the law of nations: an appellation so uncharacteristic that, were, it not force of custom, it would seem rather to refer to international jurisprudence.[5] From this definition, he only wanted to imply that while there are laws that can be implemented exclusively within the territory of every state, on the other hand, there is also law, an international law, that is being followed and must be abide by all the states that recognize such since they share a common region or organizational goal. Example of this is the UNCLOS or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world’s oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources.[6] Through UNCLOS, contradicting claims of every state relative to world’s oceans and seas are being put into table, subjected to presentation of evidences, similar in a trial court, and draws the judgment from the substantiations offered by each of the state. Having defined the concepts that make up the idea of international political system, this time, it is significant to draw the definition of IPS itself. From the delineations provided, it can be illustrated that an international political system simply means that it is a system with the same components or units that are interacting between each other or amongst one another, dependent to every other units within it, and has a trajectory of similar, related, or parallel goal or purpose.

Reaching this definition, it only provides that if the system that we currently have in the society today do not fit in the three major qualifications of [a.] interacting units, [b.] dependent to each or one another, and [c.] has analogous goal, it can obviously be declared that we do not have an international political system. For the next pages, these factors will be the foundation of the paper’s stand.

II. State and International Government Organizations

A better way to proceed to next part of this paper is by citing a cliché quote which has been attributed to International Relations for quite a long time, from Lord Palmerston, and he said “We have no permanent allies, we have no permanent enemies, we only have permanent interests.”[7] Seeing the status quo, of different states shifting alliances, focused on constantly claiming territories, and partnership with other countries for strengthening military defenses, Lord Palmerston was never wrong even it was already more than a century ago when he mentioned it.

Security is important for a state since it greatly affects the populace, economy, the government and its sovereignty. If the state’s security is threatened, it does not only put the people into the brink of harm, but moreover, it places the entire territory beyond the threshold of peace, thus, violence. Because of these possibilities, it is significant that a state must establish alliance with other state or be part of an international government organization. Being part of the international organization brings the concept of international systems or the largest conglomerates of interacting or interdependent units that have no system level above them.[8]

International government organizations exist to help the states handle issues that they cannot alone and they also create cooperation between the states.[9] By being part of an international government organization, it is true that at this point, the member state does not only consider what is solely good and beneficial for his country, but then it learns to recognize the existence of other states and realize, in one way or another, their importance to itself. International government organizations help each country to fully understand and be educated about the process of diplomacy. Process is what units are actually doing in the system.[10] Diplomacy is the process wherein they send representative, called a diplomat, to other state, or into an IGO to conduct arbitration and settle state disputes.

The study of the concentration and distribution of power in the international system is an important topic in the study of world politics because of a presumed correlation with the likelihood of war.[11] This is why, as mentioned, diplomacy is important and participation with the international government organizations is beneficial because it greatly influences in maintaining a state and the entire region’s peace, cooperation and security. IGOs such as United Nations, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund; and the regional organizations like Association of Southeast Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organization, greatly help in meeting the needs of the states which has affiliation to these organizations. They aid in the healthcare, security, financial needs of the member state and they debate on issues to determine the best solution for problems arising in the states and the organization as a whole.

III. The Three Major Qualifications

Going back, I have mentioned that if the system that we currently have in the society today do not fit in the three major qualifications of [a.] interacting units, [b.] dependent to each or one another, and [c.] has analogous goal, it can obviously be declared that we do not have an international political system.

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In brief, this paper strongly confirms that presently, there is International Political System. One of the strongest points to prove it is the presence of order in the society. There are laws that are being followed, there are international government organizations that have the same goal which is to help every member state for its development, and the units here, or the groups or organizations with an actor-quality like decision-making, were able to have connections, relations, and interactions in various fields be it for economic purposes, cooperation for stronger bond of the organization and for active participation of every member states. From the very start, the question itself used the phrase “as of now”, and for this, I will also cite the specific proof of the presence of IPS in the present time. First is the serious effort of the United Nations in finding way to help the Fijian UN peacekeepers captured by the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda. Just last Sunday, Filipino peacekeepers were able to escape from the rebels. The UN has also offered aid to the nearly three million Syrian refugees it has registered in neighboring countries.[12] Another, the ASEAN Integration will be put into effect for less than a year and a half from now until the self-imposed due date of end-2015.[13] These are the proofs that the units follow a certain system in the political grounds of the society today which creates ordered processes.


[1] John Mansley Robinson,An Introduction to Early Greek Philosophy, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1968), 91

[2] Barry Buzan and Richar Little, International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations, (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2000), 442.

[3] Ibid. p. 442.

[4] Robert E. Goodin and Hans Dieter-Klingemann, A New Handbook of Political Science, (Oxford: Oxford University Press Inc., 1998),p. 4.

[5] M. W. Janis, Jeremy Bentham and the Fashioning of “International Law,” (The American Journal of International Law, 1984), pp. 405-418

[6] Daniel Hollis, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982, The Encyclopedia of Earth, 2010), www.eoearth.org/view/article/156775.

[7] David Brown, Palmerston and the Politics of Foreign Policy, 1846-1855 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), pp. 82-83.

[8] Barry Buzan and Richard Little, International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations, (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2000), pp. 69.

[9] Henderson. Understanding International Law, 33.

[10] Buzan and Little, International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations, 80.

[11] Diana Richards, A Chaotic Model of Concentration in the International System, (International Studies Quarterly 1993), 37, pp. 55-72.

[12] Ben Hubbard, (2014, August 31). Affiliate of Al Qaeda Confirms Capture of U.N. Peacekeepers in Syria. Retrieved August 31, 2014, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/world/middleeast/un-peacekeepers-captured-in-syria.html?_r=0

[13] Rommel W. Domingo. (2014, September 1). Asean inches closer to economic integration. Retrieved September 1, 2014, from Inquirer.net: http://business.inquirer.net/177832/asean-inches-closer-to-economic-integration

International Political System

I. International Political System and Its Components

Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that the only thing constant in this world is change. Taking this statement, he believes that people must not only accept the changes happening, moreover, they must know how to celebrate it.[1] By trying to look around, one can clearly see the things that have changed and are continuously changing; some getting better, some becoming worse, others are mixed, name it, the world has it. Among the most common things that have changed and/or modified over the years are the value of every care the value of currency against the other, monetary inflation rate, voting behavior of people, climate, language, technology, among others. Despite the fact of these changes happening, each state has its own way of coping, mobilizing, promoting and even recreating to it and has a parallel effect to the global society.

It is very important to recognize these changes for it will be one of the bases in order to provide answer to the question that will be solved in this paper: As of now, do we have an international political system? After thorough research and analysis, the stand of this paper acclaims that yes, as of now, we do have an international political system.

In this paper, arguments related to government structure, behavior of the populace, power, and development will be presented in order to toughen its claim that there is international political system nowadays and its presence today was brought about by the different actions of the people in the yesteryears and significant events that had happened then.

Before proceeding to the points that will strengthen the claim, it is important to unlock first the complex terms used in the formulating the question and break it into smaller ideas.

The question at hand can be divided into three parts in order to make sure that at the end, there will be a proper riposte. For the first part, the question suggests a certain time frame as to when the answer must be based on, which is the present time, “as of now,” next, a certain manifestation is being searched upon, “do we have,” and lastly, the main factor that is being considered, the “international political system.”

Since the first and second parts of the query are relating on the third one, this time, it is necessary to define the said system and explain it for this will greatly help in guiding the points that will be presented on the latter part of this paper. The term “international political system” is comprised of three different terms that carry different significant meaning in the study of Political Science and this calls for identifying each before understanding it as a single thought.

First to be identified is the system. System is the composite formed by a structured set of interacting units.[2] Unit is the entity composed of various sub groups, organizations, communities, and many individuals, sufficiently cohesive to have actor quality (i.e. to be capable of conscious decision-making), and sufficiently independent to be differentiated from others and to have standing at the higher levels (e.g. states, nations, transnational firms).[3] To highlight, it is important that the system must have interacting units, meaning, there is reciprocal action or influences between such. Otherwise, it cannot be considered as a system.

Next is politics. It might be best characterized as the constrained use of social power – the study of the nature and source of those constraints and the techniques for the use of social power within those constraints.[4] It can also be lowered to an idea of chasing interests and decisions. Whenever an individual is faced with choices or when a state is choosing to possible decisions on issue of just and unjust for the populace, they fall to the same ground, politics.

To be given meaning lastly is the term international. This term was fashioned by Jeremy Bentham and he footnoted in his work that the word international, it must be acknowledged, is a new one; though, it is hoped, sufficiently analogous and intelligible. It is calculated to express, in a more significant way, the branch of the law which goes commonly under the name of the law of nations: an appellation so uncharacteristic that, were, it not force of custom, it would seem rather to refer to international jurisprudence.[5] From this definition, he only wanted to imply that while there are laws that can be implemented exclusively within the territory of every state, on the other hand, there is also law, an international law, that is being followed and must be abide by all the states that recognize such since they share a common region or organizational goal. Example of this is the UNCLOS or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world’s oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources.[6] Through UNCLOS, contradicting claims of every state relative to world’s oceans and seas are being put into table, subjected to presentation of evidences, similar in a trial court, and draws the judgment from the substantiations offered by each of the state. Having defined the concepts that make up the idea of international political system, this time, it is significant to draw the definition of IPS itself. From the delineations provided, it can be illustrated that an international political system simply means that it is a system with the same components or units that are interacting between each other or amongst one another, dependent to every other units within it, and has a trajectory of similar, related, or parallel goal or purpose.

Reaching this definition, it only provides that if the system that we currently have in the society today do not fit in the three major qualifications of [a.] interacting units, [b.] dependent to each or one another, and [c.] has analogous goal, it can obviously be declared that we do not have an international political system. For the next pages, these factors will be the foundation of the paper’s stand.

II. State and International Government Organizations

A better way to proceed to next part of this paper is by citing a cliché quote which has been attributed to International Relations for quite a long time, from Lord Palmerston, and he said “We have no permanent allies, we have no permanent enemies, we only have permanent interests.”[7] Seeing the status quo, of different states shifting alliances, focused on constantly claiming territories, and partnership with other countries for strengthening military defenses, Lord Palmerston was never wrong even it was already more than a century ago when he mentioned it.

Security is important for a state since it greatly affects the populace, economy, the government and its sovereignty. If the state’s security is threatened, it does not only put the people into the brink of harm, but moreover, it places the entire territory beyond the threshold of peace, thus, violence. Because of these possibilities, it is significant that a state must establish alliance with other state or be part of an international government organization. Being part of the international organization brings the concept of international systems or the largest conglomerates of interacting or interdependent units that have no system level above them.[8]

International government organizations exist to help the states handle issues that they cannot alone and they also create cooperation between the states.[9] By being part of an international government organization, it is true that at this point, the member state does not only consider what is solely good and beneficial for his country, but then it learns to recognize the existence of other states and realize, in one way or another, their importance to itself. International government organizations help each country to fully understand and be educated about the process of diplomacy. Process is what units are actually doing in the system.[10] Diplomacy is the process wherein they send representative, called a diplomat, to other state, or into an IGO to conduct arbitration and settle state disputes.

The study of the concentration and distribution of power in the international system is an important topic in the study of world politics because of a presumed correlation with the likelihood of war.[11] This is why, as mentioned, diplomacy is important and participation with the international government organizations is beneficial because it greatly influences in maintaining a state and the entire region’s peace, cooperation and security. IGOs such as United Nations, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund; and the regional organizations like Association of Southeast Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organization, greatly help in meeting the needs of the states which has affiliation to these organizations. They aid in the healthcare, security, financial needs of the member state and they debate on issues to determine the best solution for problems arising in the states and the organization as a whole.

III. The Three Major Qualifications

Going back, I have mentioned that if the system that we currently have in the society today do not fit in the three major qualifications of [a.] interacting units, [b.] dependent to each or one another, and [c.] has analogous goal, it can obviously be declared that we do not have an international political system.

In brief, this paper strongly confirms that presently, there is International Political System. One of the strongest points to prove it is the presence of order in the society. There are laws that are being followed, there are international government organizations that have the same goal which is to help every member state for its development, and the units here, or the groups or organizations with an actor-quality like decision-making, were able to have connections, relations, and interactions in various fields be it for economic purposes, cooperation for stronger bond of the organization and for active participation of every member states. From the very start, the question itself used the phrase “as of now”, and for this, I will also cite the specific proof of the presence of IPS in the present time. First is the serious effort of the United Nations in finding way to help the Fijian UN peacekeepers captured by the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda. Just last Sunday, Filipino peacekeepers were able to escape from the rebels. The UN has also offered aid to the nearly three million Syrian refugees it has registered in neighboring countries.[12] Another, the ASEAN Integration will be put into effect for less than a year and a half from now until the self-imposed due date of end-2015.[13] These are the proofs that the units follow a certain system in the political grounds of the society today which creates ordered processes.


[1] John Mansley Robinson,An Introduction to Early Greek Philosophy, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1968), 91

[2] Barry Buzan and Richar Little, International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations, (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2000), 442.

[3] Ibid. p. 442.

[4] Robert E. Goodin and Hans Dieter-Klingemann, A New Handbook of Political Science, (Oxford: Oxford University Press Inc., 1998),p. 4.

[5] M. W. Janis, Jeremy Bentham and the Fashioning of “International Law,” (The American Journal of International Law, 1984), pp. 405-418

[6] Daniel Hollis, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982, The Encyclopedia of Earth, 2010), www.eoearth.org/view/article/156775.

[7] David Brown, Palmerston and the Politics of Foreign Policy, 1846-1855 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), pp. 82-83.

[8] Barry Buzan and Richard Little, International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations, (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2000), pp. 69.

[9] Henderson. Understanding International Law, 33.

[10] Buzan and Little, International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations, 80.

[11] Diana Richards, A Chaotic Model of Concentration in the International System, (International Studies Quarterly 1993), 37, pp. 55-72.

[12] Ben Hubbard, (2014, August 31). Affiliate of Al Qaeda Confirms Capture of U.N. Peacekeepers in Syria. Retrieved August 31, 2014, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/world/middleeast/un-peacekeepers-captured-in-syria.html?_r=0

[13] Rommel W. Domingo. (2014, September 1). Asean inches closer to economic integration. Retrieved September 1, 2014, from Inquirer.net: http://business.inquirer.net/177832/asean-inches-closer-to-economic-integration

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