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  • Cited by 116
  • Print publication year: 1992
  • Online publication date: October 2009

1 - Governance, order, and change in world politics

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Summary

At a time when hegemons are declining, when boundaries (and the walls that seal them) are disappearing, when the squares of the world's cities are crowded with citizens challenging authorities, when military alliances are losing their viability – to mention but a few of the myriad changes that are transforming world politics – the prospects for global order and governance have become a transcendent issue. As the scope of the transformation widens and as its pace intensifies, the more urgent do questions about the nature of order and governance become. Change means the attrition of established patterns, the lessening of order, and the faltering of governance, until such time as new patterns can form and get embedded in the routines of world politics. Such is the situation today. One senses that the course of history is at a turning point, a juncture where the opportunities for movement toward peaceful cooperation, expanded human rights, and higher standards of living are hardly less conspicuous than the prospects for intensified group conflicts, deteriorating social systems, and worsening environmental conditions. Either set of arrangements – and possibly both – could evolve as leaders and publics get accustomed to the heady realization that some control over the future has been regained as a consequence of all the changes.