Department of Political Science and International Relations, Islamic Azad University of Shahreza, Iran
Received Date: July 30,2016; Accepted Date: August 22,2016; Published Date: August 26,2016
Citation: Javad B (2016) Post-Modern Theories of International Relations. Arts Social Sci J 7:211. doi:10.4172/2151-6200.1000211
Copyright: © 2016 Javad B. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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In post-positivism view, attitude to phenomenology and its foundations is different from the positivism view. This movement was started three decades of 20th century and is also developing now. It is established from artistic, architectural views and is extended to other social science fields. The psychological view of Lacan and Derrida, Baudrillard and Lyotard and other scientists in this field and some people as Derderian and Shapiro, etc. had created different view in international relations. Referring from the original (modernity) to margin and listening to low voice is a multiple view in this thought. The lack of originality and achieving various attitudes from different angles show that post modernism with a complete view by different post-structural views can investigate each image with different view of modernity mechanisms and phenomenological and ontology and its mythology. Also, the distance between subject and object can be reduced and object acting is increased. These solutions are effective in internal relations and new views can be raised in international relations outside of positivism view. The most important principle is emphasizing on marginal voices as not hearted by dominance and power relations and insisting on international bright relations instead of dark areas in international relations can be considered. Saussure emphasized a distinction between signifier and signified. The sound of the term apple is signifier and the concept of apple is signified. The structural relationship between signifier and signified is a semiotic and language is based on these signs. This identity sign is arbitrary and signifier is not used instead of signified. In post-structuralism, signified is decreased and signifier is in superior position. This means that there is no one by one correspondence between assumptions and reality.
Some similarities in structuralism and post-structuralism
• Criticizing subject: Subject refers to something much familiar than a person. Levy Strauss as a pioneer structuralism believes that subject is the center of being of philosophy. He believes that the final aim of human sciences is neither establishing of human being nor his elimination. Some post- structuralism as Foucault says that in subject, the self-theory equal to awareness is doubtful and awareness of centrality is eliminated.
• Both of them are critique of Historicism: They are doubtful about this thought that there is an entire model in history. The important example of criticism of Strauss is Sartre theory about historical materialism in the book “The savage mind” and he believes that the current community is better than the past cultures.
• Both approaches are critique of meaning.
• Both criticize philosophy (Althusser view about young Marx in Hegel and old Marx as the theorists). The special features of poststructuralism.
"While structuralism sees the truth as being 'behind' or 'within' a text, post-structuralism stresses the interaction of reader and text as productivity. Poststructuralism is highly critical of the unity of the stable sign (the Saussurian view). The new movement implies a shift from the signified to the signifier, and so there is a perpetual detour on the way to a truth that has lost any status or finality.
Post-structuralism, in short, involves a critique of metaphysics, of the concepts of causality, of identity, of the subject, and of truth.
Lacan doctoral thesis on paranoid psychosis and its relation to personality, he believed that madness is a discourse and an attempt for communication that must be interpreted. We have to understand rather than give causal explanations. He emphasizes that the personality is not the mind but the whole being. We cannot separate a person’s psychology from his or her personal history. Lacan’s view is always interpreted by the human subject, through language. He believes that unconscious has hidden structure as similar mostly to language structure.
One of the reasons of superimposition of the signifiers which metaphor takes as its field is that a image can thus have different meanings. Lacan believes that a sentence has not definite end and can be finished by various types.
One can only see oneself as one thinks others see one. There is an inherent tension, a feeling of danger, because one’s identity depends on recognition by the other. This is the main theme of Hegel’s story of Master and Slave. Hegel argued that consciousness cannot grasp itself without recognition by others. The Master needs recognition from the slave but this is a self-defeating process. To generalize from it, we would like to reduce others to an instrument, a mirror .
There is a moment of aggression when we want to overcome our dependency. Lacan believes in a specific ontology, we all have a need for wholeness; a longing for the unity, but the achievement of plenitude is impossibility. These are based on important idea of Lacan “dialectic of recognition”. This refers to the idea that we get knowledge of what we are from how others respond to us.
Freud the unconscious has a threatening aspect; according to Lacan unconscious is the locus of truth, of authenticity. And yet Lacan believes that the unconscious cannot be an object of knowledge; the ego projects itself and then fails to recognize itself.
Self-knowledge means that the self can reflect on itself is not possible. Lacan believes that the desire of the dream is to communicate. Freud was very interested in the relationship between nature and culture and emphasized the dominance of culture over nature. However, Lacan rejects the notion of an innate human nature. Nature, for Lacan, is the real which is out there but impossible to grasp in a pure state because it is always mediated through language.
Desire is human only if one desires not the body but the desire of the other; that is to say, if one wants to be “desired” or, rather, “recognized” in one’s human value. All Desire is desire for a value. To desire the desire of another is really to desire “recognition”. According to Derrida, there is no direct relationship between signifier and signified. Saussure believes that in Saussure idea, signifier is a unified identity. However, according to Derrida, thought is not unique. The assumption that goal of knowledge predicted can be consistent with its tool is an impossible desire. The assumption that “goal” predicted by knowledge can be consistent with its tool is an impossible desire.
Derrida is famous for developing deconstruction method, Derrida challenges the belief regarding the access and positivism and phenomenology.
According to Derrida, Phonocenterism is one of the effects of presence. In post-structuralism and post-modernization fields, the main field of discussions is turned from method to recognition foundations (In both movements, the fundamental role of language is emphasized and there is negative feeling to close cognition systems). Jim George and David Campbell considered these two equal. In this book, based on the emphasis of author as post structuralism at least in cognitive dimensions is one of the main components of postmodernization and it is considered as the same meaning.
By this movement (beside critical movement and constructivism), the third discussion has meta theoretical and philosophical aspects and is extended to evaluation of international relationship of “self ” as a scientific field.
According to Tony Porter, the third discussion indicates renovation of meta theoretical assumptions as important in most of years after the second world war as which theoretical recognition is accepted from scientific views?
The critiques of post-structuralism and post-modernism include the main movement of deepest layers of knowledge and ontology to methodology fields. Despite the emphasis on the approach “intertextuality” is not scientific proof and it cannot be considered as anti-scientific.
The modern theory to rationality, humanism is separation of subject from object, achieving true recognition corresponding with reality and achieving reality via using special methods, indifference and lack of scientific recognition versus rationality, release, equality and progress can be considered.
Post-modernists by opposing to essentialism as inherent essence for phenomena, foundationalism mean s relying on stable foundations for recognition, modern subjectivity and independent role of object, logocenthism, Totalization, meta-narrative as big myths as legitimizing other narrations and discourses as myths and reality as legitimizing the scientific activity and the relationship between recognition and power, deconstruction, Textualism, intertextuality, the meaning construction, emphasis on variety can be against modernization .
Alex Callinicos proposes a rather different division of poststructuralism into two main groups. The first of these is what Richard Rorty has called ‘textualism’ and is linked with the name of Jarues Derrida, French theorist and considering literature at center of attention and he considers that science and philosophy at best states are literal genres, thus everything is text, there is no way to escape from discourse and there is nothing outside text. This doesn’t mean ontology negation of those outside text and it is negating recognition of such things. The second branch is in the main item “power-cognition” and its main agent is Michele Foucault and the distinctive feature of this branch is linking said and unsaid and discursive and non-discursive. Jarues Derrida considers its attack as foundationalism, representation and subject, representation is reflecting the main origins as images and texts attempt to represent them. The image of tree is not the real tree, if it was tree; it was not just an image. We can say cognitive claim is logos based, which logos is based on its two-aspect meaning in Greek, “Truth” and “Speech”. Thus, speech orientation means that reality is in speech or speech. It is emphasized that cognitive claim as achieving their legitimacy with reference to financial propositions of outside world, they are reality circular and self-referential, it means that they are referred with other concepts in language, not the outside world and there is no way to validate the speech from outside. Derrida believes that literal text is affected by other texts and no text is unified and the meaning of text is the test itself or it is not determined by author. What we say and write is not only affected by other texts, its meaning is made in link with other texts. Text is a multi-dimensional space in which various writing without authenticity is combined. For giving meaning to text, there is nothing beyond language. Language is self-reflection and representation is impossible, no representation can represent the world. Thus, all representations are political; they are for the benefit and loss of one side. In other words, as we think inside language, we talk, write and inside the language, some meanings with referring concepts to each other are formed not by referring to external affair. We are encountered with the endless game of signifiers; it means that signified is not outside of language. According to Ferdinand de Saussure, Swiss linguistic in 19th century, language is raised as a signifying system not representing .
Language is an independent or self-continuing entity. Signifier is physical image, the set of alphabets or voice, signified is image and is combined in sign, without any reference outside language. Thus, language and linguistic phenomena as science and philosophy are independent, the relationship between signifier and signified is arbitrary and the difference between Derrida and Saussure is as despite Saussure, the relationship between signifier and signified is not constant and definite.
Semiotics analyzes non-discursive affairs as the texts revealing the formation of meaning or their meanings show that how all things are meaningful based on the position in a culture and how ideological reference frameworks help the fixation of meaning. For example, food is a language or code and an apart of food is sign and these signs are meaningful in combination with each other and some rules are dominant on these relations. This vision separates the text from author and writing is in the framework of culture. This assumption that the real meaning of text is separated from the intention of author, it is because of the death of author.
In definition of deconstruction: Deconstruction as a mode of interpretation works by a careful entering of each textual labyrinth…..the deconstructive critic seeks to find, by this process of retracing, the element in the system studied which is a logical, the threat in the text in question which will untravel it all, or the loose stone which will pull down the whole building. The deconstruction annihilates the ground on which the building stands by showing that the text has already annihilated that ground, knowingly or unknowingly. Deconstruction is not a dismantling of the structure of a text but a demonstration that it has already dismantled itself. Finally cognitive content negates theoretical texts and they are reduced to a set of literal techniques and speech tools and don’t reject the difference between this text and literal texts .
Thus, texts create the game of signs not expressing the logic in the mind of author, thus reading text is not related to the intention of author and what he writes is not what he intends. The world is considered in the framework of textuality as created by infinite influence and game of discourses and related texts.
Like Derrida, Michele Foucault believes that there is no meaning outside of language and everything is language. In this early works as Foucault archeology of knowledge emphasizes on the independent nature of discourse.
If define different terms, concepts or minor theme of regular repetition among objects (order, correlation, position and functions, change), we can say….we deal with discursive forming.
Jean-François Lyotard is the hero of separating from modern theories and methods, attacking totalitarian theories (The theories based on a generality and totalitarian theories negating the other visions) and foundationalism (considering real foundation beyond the mere beliefs with uninvestigated procedures) and emphasizing on heterogeneity, multiplicity and variety. Lyotard considers mostmodernism as decrease of assurance to image of progress. Lyotard doesn’t consider post in post-modernism as returning or time lag and it means analysis and re-thinking. He believes that post-modern follows instability not stability. This cognition is against foundationalism and supports variety, heterogeneity and continuous innovation. Despite modern discourses resorting to reality or metadiscourse, postmodern epistemology doesn’t trust on meta-tradition and totalitarian and emphasizes on variety, difference. It tries to criticize the modern discourses not from outside but inside discourse and showing its internal contradictions .
In this post-modern cognition, the goal is not achieving reality. The important point is “talking” not “research”, in talking, the talking itself is important not the aim of talking is real.
The emphasis of Lyotard on post-modernism variety against totalitarian and modernism generalists and his belief on the necessity of criticism of discourses and eliminating their dominance are the most important points as considered.
Jean Baudrillard as one of the post-modernism authors, his studies is important in terms of the analysis of new community. He believes that in new era, computer simulation, data processing, media, control systems, cybernetic and community organizing based on models and simulation codes as alternative for production are the main components of society. In contemporary community, the distinction between model and reality, the border between image or simulation and reality is eliminated and the real experience is annihilated. By raising “hyperreal” concept, in these conditions, in unreal condition, more than the reality, simulation of real signs can be real and the border between information and fun, politics and fun, war and fun (namely in TV shows) is eliminated.
The reflection of post-modernism thoughts in international relations
Most of post-modernism/post structuralism writings in international relations are as using concepts, methods, fundamental thoughts of this movement in international relations and we should talk cautiously of the post-modernism theorists in this field as most of them have shown that they don’t resort fully to post-modernist views.
In evaluation of the effects of post-modernism, Vasquez refers to the international relations study field and five dimensions of this thought are as follows:
• Modernism favorite nature: In post-modernism thought, two important thoughts of elitisms are negated one progress as rising instead of “separation” and second are that modernity is the end of history and perfection of humanity.
• Raising choice instead of reality: According to post-structuralisms, nothing is necessary and the existing arrangements are created by people, everything is “raised” and what exists is the product of “choices”.
• Reality as social constructivism: If what exists is “favorite” and product of human choice, what exists is constructed by people and the beliefs and behaviors are “human imposition”.
• The conceptual frameworks are exposed to self-realizing preventions. By developing beliefs and practice based on them, parts of world represented by images are created in practice.
Nevertheless, scientific enquiry is not wholly value-free because it helps build structures as approving some life styles and eliminate others. Thus, science is not a useful tool; it is a procedure creating a life style.
The identity process and identity construction is a form of power
Identity is one of the social constructivism forms imposed on people. Any person controlling identity has deep impact on one’s life and destiny, group and society.
Thus, identity is power-based and as it is not optional, it is violating human freedom. Indeed, the important points of Vasquez refer to the existing constructivism aspect in post-modernism thought by which achieving reality is meaningless and reality is what is made. Porter believes that post-modernism in international relations emphasizes on the role of language, rhetoric in construction of power relations on one hand and construction of cognitive sets on the other hand. In two dimensions, as the study of international relations and the role of meaning constructivism in international system and phenomenological foundations of study fields of international relations can be of great importance.
What is revealed in post-modernism writings in international relations can be discourse criticism of international relations as academic theoretical discourses and dominant discourses in international relations with emphasis on their constructed nature.
Emphasizing on post-modernism methods as foundationalism, genealogy and semiotics in critique of discourses, negation of subject, representation forms, based on power relations in discourses, in international relations and also in international relations field and changes in language and place, new power forms, simulation root and ….can be revealed in studies affected by post-modernism in international relations. According to DerDerian, discourses relying on strong social forces as scientific objectivity can stabilize “reality regimes”. Post-structural analysis methods are not tools to criticize this power and cognition domain, the methods useful to evaluate the social sciences theories.
Textualism and basic concepts in international relations
The departure point of post-structuralism in international relations is as the world cannot be separated from interpretive procedures by which our familiar world is made. Thus, post-structuralisms mostly considered language, discourse, text and meaning. Thus, international relations world is a text but there are powers controlling “Reading” text but they have identity based on history.
Ashley and Walker in a post-modernism, post-structuralism statement in international relations emphasized on variety of “voicing” to margins or “exiles. They consider unique cognitions against main flow in international relations as “resistance” against modern cognition, the cognition as re-making representation as eliminating contradictory interpretations and considering meaning from the view of subject as his speech is the origin of reality. Against the main movement in international relations ignoring the cognitive and phenomenological issues of discussions, Walker requested the various interpretations in international relations and resistance against main movement. Discursive dimension and constructivism of “realities” of international relations and its outcomes namely in terms of power relations, margin can be considered by post-modernism in international relations .
The first step in showing that how a process, vision, concept or reality are socially constructed as alienating from it or it is far from it.
For new view, interpretations, methods, words and dominant discursive forming in international relationship should be eliminated. Walker raises this discussion that modern policy is a social constructivism as emphasizing on spatial politics regarding the distinction between inside and outside, important assumption of most of theories and interpretation of international relations as realism. It is assumed as state uniform identity as politics is meaningful in it but emergence of international relations can show limitations of modern politics and it is revealed that politics shouldn’t be in the country borders. This type of constructivism guaranteeing the formation of national identity and the distinction between here and there, self and other can be meant that even the image of a unique politics by explanations as keeping us as it is can be restricted. This discourse is with elimination of unique facilities even in mental image stage. Thus, this discourse by eliminating unique facilitates even in mental image, modern government is the subject of collective rational action- the modern excellent subject as criticized by post-modernists. The object of this government is internal community as exposed to its gaze-the two aspect distinction criticized by post-modernism by which subject is active and human and object is passive.
There is no anarchy really, the governments make it. The logic of anarchy is not separated from the procedures creating special structure of identities and benefits instead of other structure.
Bradley Kline shows that security is a very modern procedure to interpret the external danger. Thus, security is a type of discourse opening authority and control structures. According to Shapiro modern security is not based on chance. Everything is controlled to avoid hiding and the meaning of everything and everybody is exposed to a form of objectivity, it is turned into object.
The relationship between identity and otherness is considered by postmodern theorists in international relations. Identity is a constructivist affair as stabilized by forming to artificial borders. Beyond these borders, otherness is suppressed. According to Richard Ashley, this principle (identity) is applied in linking with the relationship between international chaos and internal order. The borders between governments and geographical lines in earth and their geopolitics culture are other constructed dimension of international policy and this geopolitics discourse should be investigated in terms of genealogical aspects.
Shapiro believes that geopolitics discourse is a strategic discourse as the world is represented as contradictory camps [Defining “otherness” as enemy] and the other meaning is that other representations of the world are affected in the framework of power economy and it means elimination of other representations or representing discourses.
Here, politics, governance, security, identity and what we assume in international relations as obvious data, they are turned into constructed discourses, and they are some procedures for representation. With such feature, talking about them doesn’t mean “real affair expression”, they can be challenged by making them as natural.
The critique of theoretical texts
Re-reading and critique of theoretical discourses of international relations namely realistic discourse is one of the interesting issues of post-modernists.
Walker evaluated Machiavelli and considered different view and he considers constructivism sin in realistic texts in the framework of special interpretation of a tradition not sinless and considers all of them of writings of Shahriar and says that : By viewing other writings of Machiavelli and putting it in special historical ground, we can find Machiavelli as consistent mostly with humanism, democracy and civic virtue as referring the politics of power of Ashley in deconstructive approach and works of Kenneth Waltz namely the book of man, the state and war and states that in this book, man is a wise identity and history masters against war is the domain escaping from the influence of human being and it is dangerous, violent and anarchic. Thus, fundamental contradiction in text and Waltz are two concepts of man and war. In Waltz paradigm, human rationality is in superior position to war; this exposure to chaos as “We” are not can reach governance. Thus, in order that human rationality reaches governance, it needs chaos. Without controlling chaos domain, war domain (international relations) of human rationality cannot do its heroic duty. What is considered as governance reality is an affair meaningful regarding chaos and chaos cannot be eliminated.
Ashley shows the speech-based nature of Waltz theory. Ashley performs re-reading and it shows that interest is based on cognition and it attempts to interpret international relations in a society of common international values. James Der Derian investigates realism in three dimensions of genealogy, semiology and dermologic.
The politics of representation field
Representation and what is called politics of representation or discourse politics can be considered by post-modernists in international relations. Klein by literal critique of handbook of US army as given to its soldiers shows that how they manipulate subjectivity of soldiers, impose discipline and hide violence of war and responsibility of using weapons.
Der Derian considers one of the important intertextualities of power and game in global politics as popular culture of international intrigue. This intertextual represents a field of ideological competition in which national security strategies with impossible real war final games with collective annihilation can be considered as fun as war simulation in which states compete, benefits are contradicted, spy vs. spay and mass consumption is considered. They compete for national modern security to draw the borders and dominate on dark margins of international relations.
Michele Shapiro investigated intertextual aspects of war and sport, we shouldn’t forget that sport and sport skills (shooting, track and field, spear gun, etc.) and are in association with war needs and by changing the technology, war are associated with new video games.
Bradley Klein investigates NATO representation policy via genealogy and deconstruction, NATO is defined as a set of procedures the west forms as a political and cultural identity.
Supervision, simulation and speed-DreDrian says
In post-modern world, space is not geography, it is in electronic and unity is in terminals. A movement is from geopolitics to chronopolitics and distribution of territory becomes the distribution of time.
According to DreDrian, in post-modern condition, modern cognition tools are criticized not only criticized they have lost their efficiency and under these conditions, we should use poststructuralism- post-modernism techniques.
According to Graham et al., we can consider post-modernism as a style of theory, special aspect of perception or the methods for doing social studies.
It seems that in international relations, the second and third dimensions are dominated. Porter believes that post-modernism attention presents game without the centrality of signs in texts as how meaning is created and its relationship with dominance strategies is shown and can have great role in power analysis.
James DerDerrian is one of the pioneers of using post-structuralism visions in international relations: International relations required an intertextual approach as critical searching in a field of thought as there is no reality absent judge. Intertextual strategy attempts to understand placement and displacement of theories as how a theory is superimposed on other theories and others are silenced and understand how a theory is separated as a cognitive procedure as historical and favorite from other events, the morale inspired by materialistic dimensions forming international community.
Post-structuralism doesn’t consider their writings constituting of a thought school and attempt to enter discussion with ignored thoughts and forgotten footnote and be developed with theorists and texts. Porter considers three weak points for post-modernism movement in international relations: 1- Lack of tolerating variety, 2- Ignoring materialistic limitations, 3- Lack of sensitivity to the importance of values and consensus.
In most cases, their interpretations of texts are exaggerating. The negation of out-textual reference causes that texts in post-modern approach to international relations are turned into interesting stories without any relationship with real life of people. For example, Porter believes that Richard Ashley emphasizes that this realism is a discourse stabilizing international system not realists as it is not an imaging subject and realism is based on game without centrality. Indeed, there are some people forming such discourse.
Neufeld believes that post-modernists don’t consider the normativepolitical content of their approach and George Vexel believes that poststructuralism is a political view but it is not biased. According to Neufeld, any political vision follows a political line. If based on votes and post-structuralisms as belief theory, all theories are for a person or something, post-modernism is for whom and what.
We should say that post-modernism in international relations is based on the definition of its mission, production of new interpretations of world-textual and ambiguity about historical constructed aspect by which we understand this “World-Text”. We can say that post-modernism returns international relations to origin in history and diplomacy based on interpretation and considering special, random, indefinite and uncommon affairs.