The colonising ethic and modern international society : a reconstruction of the Grotian tradition of international theory
This thesis develops a new ideal type of modern international society by exploring the affinities between certain solidarist features of the order that exists in contemporary world politics and the 'colonising ethic'. The purpose of this analysis is to reconstruct the Grotian tradition of international theory, by challenging Hedley Bull's representation of modern international society as an anarchical society of states, which has contributed to the view that the solidarist elements of Grotian thought are nostalgic 'neo-medievalism' or utopian prescriptions for the future. Bull's description of modern international society has three principal components; an absolutist interpretation of Hugo Grotius's international political theory; a 'Westphalian' account of the origins of modern international society; and an account of the expansion of international society through the imposition of the 'standard of civilisation' on non-European states. The thesis develops a different ideal type of modern international society by reappraising these elements of Bull's argument. It offers a non-absolutist interpretation of Grotius's conception of the law of nations, highlighting his ideas of appropriation and divisible sovereignty. Then, to explain the origins of modern international society, the thesis demonstrates the affinity between these concepts and colonisation in the Netherlands, the Dutch East Indies and North America. This illustrates the ethical system embedded in the practice of colonisation: the 'colonising ethic'. To explain how this international society expanded to global extension, the thesis then shows how the Grotian concepts of appropriation and divisible sovereignty formed important parts of Dutch colonial administration in Indonesia and the westward expansion of the American states-union. This provides the basis for a novel interpretation of three elements of order in contemporary world politics: the apparent tension between state sovereignty and human rights; the partial centralisation of authority in international society; and the justification of resistance through international norms.