New PDF release: Individualism and World Politics

By Michel Girard (eds.)

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It is consistent to regard the big system as predominantly structurally determined, while believing that the individual has a large role in small groupings. 30 Individualism and World Politics Secondly, to say that an individual has a small influence on a system does not mean small influences are not worthwhile. Thus, sending blankets to victims of a war has an influence - it keeps people warm, though in proportion to the number of blankets sent. It is perfectly consistent to argue one has the influence at the level of individual actions which yield proportional results, while believing in a broadly structuralist view of social systems in which, for example, no individual can end a war (or only under the special circumstances discussed below).

Thus we can ask whether Gandhi as an individual made a difference to Indian independence or the Ayatollah Khomenei to the Iranian revolution. Would a substitute Gandhi have been forced to do the same sort of things, and did what Gandhi did make any real difference to what happened? These different ways in which individuals can be relevant raise related but different points which I shall elaborate. There is another type of individual which does not fall into any of the classes above, namely the individual person, such as George Soros or Rupert Murdoch, who has resources comparable to the other actors such as states with which they are dealing.

19 Macro theories of international relations have yet to allow for the ways in which globalization may arouse publics, 20 but it may not be long before the insecurities fostered by mobile capital flows so pervasively agitate individuals at the micro level that macro theorists will have to broaden their lenses and refocus their concerns. In effect, they will have to allow for an acceleration and further globalization of the skill revolution. The permanence of the collective-action pattern points up the danger of underestimating the extent of the authority crises inherent in this period of global turbulence.

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