2 Between the domestic and the international Using egalitarian interdependence

2 between the domestic and the international using

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2. Between the domestic and the international Using egalitarian interdependence in the international context requires, first, a look at Rousseau’s own thoughts on the gap between the international and the domestic. Rousseau is acutely aware of the deep disparity between international anarchy and domestic sovereignty. This disparity makes humanity “forever unstable. Man to man we live in a civil state and subject to law, [while] people to people each enjoys natural freedom; which at bottom makes our position worse than if these distinctions were unknown.” ( SW , 5) One can read this statement as extremely demanding. Even if, hypothetically, we would have achieved the ideal society, even if we enjoyed rational liberty by following self-imposed law inside our borders, we would still need to aspire for more beyond these borders, since in such conditions we would still be merely Living both in the social order and in the state of nature…subject to the inconveniencies of both without finding security in either. It is true that the perfection of the social order 9
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consists in the union of force and law. But for this to be so, law must guide force; whereas according to the ideas of princes about their absolute independence, force alone, speaking to citizens in the guise of law and to foreigners in the guise of reason of state, deprives the latter of the power and the former of the will to resist, so that everywhere the vain name of justice only serves as a shield for violence. ( SW , 5) Two opposing conclusions can be drawn from this passage. The first is a realist, pessimist acceptance of this state of affairs as inalterable. The second is a determination to transform it completely, probably through the introduction of some form of confederative republic ensuring “perpetual peace.” The perspective offered here rejects the first, realist option while pursuing a very nuanced and limited version of the second, meant to stop democracies’ complicity in the perpetuation of the “shield for violence.” Though many IR scholars have been reading Rousseau as a quintessential realist, there are significant differences between Rousseau and standard realist thinking, which become evident especially once one avoids the tendency, rightfully attacked by Michael Williams, to treat Rousseau’s “writings on international politics in almost complete abstraction from his theory as a whole.” (Williams, 2005, 52) First, Rousseau does not believe in the balance of power. This balance yields wars, even if only occasionally, and Rousseau has nothing but contempt for war. In The State of War Rousseau introduces the “social state” with the accusation that “we shall see men united by an artificial concord, assemble to slaughter one another, and all the horrors of war arise from the efforts made to prevent them.” ( SW, 21) This might be the picture of “men as they are,” but it cannot be the picture of “the laws as they might be,” ( SC . 1.1) since in most practical terms continued wars between states are the worst alternative. Tragic as Rousseau’s thought often
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