Alternative Future Systems

Richard W. Chadwick

World Problems: Power
Domain, Scope, Range and Weight

Robert Dahl and (supplemented separately by Karl Deutsch) once suggested the following dimensions of power:
  1. domain - the "actors" influenced (people, nations, states, etc.)
  2. scope - the issues or needs that are at stake (you can relate these to Maslow's checklist: survival, security, community, responsibility/esteem, fulfilment/actualization)
  3. range - the variety of sanctions that can be used (use Lasswell's value checklist here: wealth, respect, affection, power, skill, well-being, enlightenment, rectitude)
  4. weight - the degree or intensity of sanctions that could be used (how much wealth? respect? and so on)

The struggle for the acquisition and use of coercive influence (power, following Lasswell) is very much related to the ambitions of leaders (recall Richardson's arms race theory "ambition" factor, and Cline's "strategic purpose" factor?) and those who follow them. As the potential for coercion increases, questions of trust and distrust become increasingly significant (REACM and GLOCOM in IFs) in the context of assessing real and anticipated threats to basic needs and future growth and fulfilment.

Use the following outline to make your own notes. Note that all eight of the problems below are introduced as effects of technology or governmental decision making processes. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Eight Issue Areas in International Relations

The following list was compiled by Walter F. Jones in his text, The Logic of International Relations, Ch. 18 (7th ed).

 1 ecology - "Without new levels of cooperation and international
             regulation, we are bent upon ecological suicide."
                                                   ibid., p. 636
     General marginalization of resources:
      ozone depletion
      deforestation -
      global warming (CO-2, CFCs)
      chemical/radiological contamination (industrial pollutants,
         radioactive waste, pesticides)
      fresh water -
      arable land -

   (See general pattern.)

 2 population

 3 natural resources

 4 food

 5 science and technology (PQLI up because of)

     1980 USA Surgeon General said health costs up due to
     uncontrolled S&T effects on the environment

 6 autocratic government and human rights - d(gnppc)=10% in SK,
     Taiwan, yet repressive

 7 world economics - requires stability, new
decision systems

 8 international public goods and property

   These problems are a preamble to discussing how to reduce
international anarchy after, in effect, detailing how bad anarchy
is by presenting the eight problems as the effect of anarchy.
The three solutions he describes to the problem of "world order"

   reformist: make U.N., IOs generally, function effectively

   minimalist: world law and a UNSC police force

   maximalist: a "United States" of the World

Criteria for evaluating alternative world orders

    o  social practicality - integrative potential too low
    o  philosophical desirability - may lead to tyranny
    o  probability of success - won't lead to peace, justice

Problems of world order which he discusses:
    o  sovereignty transfer (away from nations)
    o  mechanisms of sanction
    o  power and justice
    o  value standards and objectives
    o  internal war - major threat to peace and security

Give examples of each from the text.


I discussed the following model over several class lectures:

                         (1)+               (2)+      (3)+
d(population)/d(technology) => marginalization => stress =>
                p,nr,f,        (Lasswell)         (Maslow)

            (4)+          (5)-                (7)+
...instability => repression => social injustice => instability
                   ||                                  ||
                  (6)+                                (8)-
                   ||=> fear ==========================||

   (Note: since I wrote this, I've put it another

   The first part (1) means that as population goes up, people
get marginalized unless technology keeps pace with the effects
of increased demand for resources.  Lasswell provides a checklist
of social resources (wealth, health, skill, education, respect,
rectitude, power and affection) which are diminished.  This in
turn leads to (2) stress.  Maslow provides a checklist of basic
needs, which I modified for application to international
relations: survival, security (anticipated survival through
time), community ("belongingness"--emotional bonds of identity
of self with a community), one's position in it (self-esteem),
and fulfilment.  As people become marginalized, they become
stressed as their basic needs are threatened.

   As stress increases, political instability increases (3) as
governments increasingly fail to provide the leadership necessary
to sustain basic needs at an acceptable level and excuses run
out.  Instability is reacted to with repression (4), which has
two effects.  First, it strikes fear into people (6) which
decreases instability (8).  But second, it also increases one's
sense of social injustice (5) as the distribution as well as
level of marginalization becomes less and less justifiable.
Finally, as social injustice goes up, so does instability (7).

   The result of this unhealthy breakdown of social order is not
predictable.  Depending on the relative strength of each
relationship and other factors (such as the effects on population
and technology growth rates of the other variables above, and
environmental effects not shown), the result may be stabilization
of instability (e.g., a constant likelihood of revolution), or
oscillation between extremes until the whole system breaks down.
Examples of such a breakdown: Russia's loss of its empire (first
with eastern Europe, then all the provinces, now possibly Russia
itself), breakdown of Alexander the Great's empire, breakdown of
colonialism, and so on.  The question is, what are the actual
strengths of such relationships, and how stable are they (e.g.,
are they in turn--most likely!--a function of yet other factors).

   Political science has come a long way since the days of
Aristotle, but it still hasn't had the success of the physical
and some of the biological sciences, probably because the
phenomena of politics and what it deals with are far more complex
and less controllable than most objects with which the sciences
deal, but also because there are so very many alternative
theories and belief systems about politics that it is very
difficult to know where to begin.

   This course began with a social psychological framework
(Maslow's), a value framework (Lasswell's) and my own (GDA), and
showed the links between these and the traditional treatment of
international relations theory: power, balance of power, regional
balances, and the balance of terror--following Jones; then it
systematically reviewed causes of war, each step of the way
showing the interrelationships between those causes when seen
from the Maslow-Lasswell-GDA theory (M-L-GDA).  We then turned to
political economy and the developments in international
organization and integration due essentially to the application
of technology to manufacturing, transportation, and
communication.  When these changes due to the diffusion of
technology are interpreted through the M-L-GDA theory, you get
the above model.

   What happens next.  As I've said, I'm no forecaster.  The
direction the world system takes depends not only on changes in
the drift state (or world system equilibrium), but on our control
of its direction and the extent to which we struggle to shift it
in a direction we'd prefer.  Those of us who take an active part
in this process have some sort of destiny at least marginally
under their control; the rest have a fate.  They may be victims
or beneficiaries, as the case may be.

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Copyright © 1996 Richard W. Chadwick
I last revised this page on November 29, 1995.   Current update November 23, 1996.
Dr. Richard W. Chadwick Professor, Political Science, University of Hawaii
Email me at world@Hawaii.Edu