[download the full text in PDF from here]
Downloaded from UvA-DARE, the institutional repository of the University of Amsterdam (UvA)
File ID 66258
Filename 1. THE STATE, REFUGEE MIGRATION AND IR THEORIES
SOURCE (OR PART OF THE FOLLOWING SOURCE):
Title The state, the crisis of state institutions and refugee migration in the Horn of Africa : the cases
of Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia
Author W.A. Degu
Faculty Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
FULL BIBLIOGRAPHIC DETAILS:
It is not permitted to download or to forward/distribute the text or part of it without the consent of the author(s) and/or
copyright holder(s), other then for strictly personal, individual use.
UvA-DARE is a service provided by the library of the University of Amsterdam (http://dare.uva.nl)1.. THE STATE, REFUGEE MIGRATION AND IR THEORIES
Refugeee migration has been part of global (international) politics affecting almost all parts of the
worldd at one time or another. There have been few countries, if any, which have not been
involvedd either as being at the source or at the receiving end, or both, of this human migration.
Thiss means that refugee migration has been and will continue to be an international concern.
However,, refugee studies have not been the focus of international relations (ER) theories as they
shouldd be. This may be, perhaps, for two reasons. One of the reasons is our understanding of the
discipline,, for the term 'international relations' has been misleading. Traditionally the discipline
hass been concerned with relations between the nations of the world, which in effect means
relationss between nation states and national states. And yet in the contemporary world, this is
onlyy one of the discipline's principal concerns. It is now a broader and more eclectic field of
study,, which explains why some argue that 'global politics' is a more appropriate description of
Thee other reason for the marginalization of refugee studies in the field of international relations
iss that refugee migration has been taken as a temporary phenomenon which does not need
sophisticatedd theorizing. More recently, however, because of the broader understanding of
internationall relations as global politics, and the ever increasing and permanent nature of
refugeee migration, more intellectuals are becoming aware of the need for theories in the field of
refugeee studies. As a result, an increasing number of attempts are being made in developing
theoriess within international relations and other disciplines. In the light of the broader categorizationn of the field of international relations, it is easier to see that this research project falls
withinn its scope: it is concerned with the (re)constitution of the state as a sovereign territorial
entity,, the failure/collapse of state institutions and the related refugee migration. Thus, one of
thee major objectives of this chapter, as the continuation of the recent development, is to give
refugeee studies its proper place within the discipline and to attempt to explain refugee migration
withh the help of theories in international relations. In other words, it is to place the theoretical
frameworkk of this research within the broader spectrum of international theories. To do so, it is
importantt to identify which theories are more relevant in analyzing the state, its crisis and the
resultingg refugee migration in Africa. However, before passing onto this task it is important to
makee a number of points regarding theories in general.
First,, it is crucial to recognize that people understand and interpret the world within a particular
culturee and linguistic frameworks. These are the lenses through which we see the world. One of
thee primary purposes for studying theory, therefore, is to enable us to examine our own lenses
andd discover how controlled or distorted our world view is (Burchill, 1996: 14). In the light of
this,, the second objective of this chapter is to show that many international relations theories are
basedd on the cultural and linguistic frameworks of the powerful North or the 'developed world'.
Inn other words, as Booth (1995: 333-334) cleverly points out, it is to highlight how 'international
politicall theory has largely been Western ideology and the West did not want a different theoretical future
becausee it was dominating the practical present. No space was allowed for ideas about transcendence and
emancipation.. Ideas such as dependency and world-systems theory were shunned as un-American academic
activities'.. This is not to say that the story we hear from the dominant perspectives did not contain
reality.. It is to say that the story we did not hear also contains elements of reality. But for those
seekingg truth, the silence of the powerless has more to say than have the selfish words of the
powerfull (Ibid.). It is also important to point out that there is a strong and urgent need to give the
11 See Burchill, 1996: 9 for the different categories of Che discipline's recent preoccupation.
1 1 necessaryy attention to the silenced and powerless South and to the alternative explanations
withinn the discipline if it is to genuinely deal with global politics.
Second,, most ER theorists believe that studying the Western experience alone is sufficient to
establishh general laws of individual, group, or state behaviour irrespective of the point in time or
thee geographical location. Thus, few look to the Third World to seek evidence for their
argumentss (Neuma, 1998: 2). This Eurocentric character makes most of international relations
(IR)) theories less relevant to the non-western world. In other words, as Ayoob (1998: 33) points
out,, '...major theories of IR on offer today fail to pass the basic test of adequacy primarily
becausee they do not concern themselves with the behavior of the large majority of members of
thee international system2
and, therefore fail to provide adequate explanation for the causes of
mostt manifestations of conflict and disorder in the system' (see also Holsti, 1998: 103-132). In
thiss regard the third objective of this chapter is to at least indicate the importance of considering
thee Third World in the development and elaboration of IR theories.
Third,, most dominant international theories have been preoccupied with so many abstract ideas
(suchh as power politics, international order, state, international society) to the extent of
marginalizingg (ignoring) the emancipation of human kind as their focus. More recently,
however,, attempts have been made by critical theorists to make emancipation their point of
departuree in their theoretical endeavour. As a follow up to this attempt, the other objective of
thiss chapter it is to try to make a small contribution by making the focus of international
relationss the betterment of humankind and its emancipation. Refugees (which are the focus of
thiss research) need emancipation more that anybody else.
Finally,, it may be necessary to make it clear from the outset that the theoretical orientation of
thiss research is more of critical theory and constructivist approach. The Marxist and postmodemm approaches might also be useful. However, it will be important to look into the basic
assumptionss of the different approaches, especially liberalism, realism and rationalism in brief
soo that it will be clear why these approaches are not as relevant as Marxism and postmodernism,, and most importantly as critical theory for this particular research. Then Marxism,
criticall theory and post-modernism will be discussed.
Too start with some of the major assumptions: first, liberals assume that there is a self-evident
valuee system, committed to international harmony and cooperation, which has universal
validity.. Second, they seek the expansion of liberalism (both in economic and political terms) as
aa universal value. Third, they ignore the fact that industrial powers have achieved economic
successs with a wider role of the state.
Inn this respect, liberalism has been preoccupied, among other things, with two apparent global
developments:: (1) The pacification of foreign relations among liberal states (Doyle, 1986:
1155).. The basic assumption here is that liberal states do exercise peaceful constraint and a
separatee peace exits among them (Ibid.: 1155-1156). This separate peace provides a solid
foundationn for the establishment of organizations like the North Atlantic Organization. It was
believedd that the same foundation offers the promise of a continuing peace among liberal states,
33 The great majority of members or the post-1945 international system are non-western states both in number or unit
statess and their population.
2 2 andd as the number of liberal states increases, it announces the possibility of global peace (Ibid.).
(2)) International 'prudence'. The point here is that peaceful restraint only seems to work in
liberals'' relations with other liberals. Liberal states have fought numerous wars with non-liberal
states.. Many of these wars have been defensive and thus prudent by necessity (Ibid.). Authoritariann rulers, on the contrary, stimulate and respond to an international political environment in
whichh conflict of prestige, interest, and pure fear of what other states might do all lead states
towardd war. War and conquest have thus characterized the careers of many authoritarian rulers
(Ibid.:: 1157). The very fundamental assumption, therefore, has been that militaristic and
undemocraticc governments created wars for their own vested interests: to raise taxes, expand
theirr bureaucratic apparatus and thus increase their control over their citizens (Burchill, 1996:
30).. Based on this assumption liberals concluded that 'the prospects for the elimination of war
layy with a preference for democracy over aristocracy, free trade over autarky, collective security
overr the balance of power system' (Ibid.). This entails breaking the power of the ruling elites
andd curbing their propensity for violence by means of the democratic process and institutions. In
addition,, free trade and commerce will overcome the artificial barriers between individuals and
unitee them everywhere into one community.
Thus,, according to liberalism, the best prospect for bringing an end to war between states lies
withh the spread of liberal-democratic governments and constitutionalism across the globe.
However,, the perception within the periphery that this constitutes little more than the dominationn of one culture by another has been and will be the greatest barrier to the expansion of the
liberal'ss zone of peace from the core to the other parts of the world (Ibid.: 35).3
The more recent
attemptt to impose liberalism and market economy on the non-western world, the resistance
againstt this pressure, and the resulting chaos are typical evidences of the expansion of liberalism
andd the struggle against it, unsuccessful at least for now.
Moreover,, though the apparent absence of war between liberal states for some time may have
beenn significant, aggression by liberal states has also characterized a large number of wars. For
instance,, both Britain and France fought expansionist colonial wars throughout the nineteenth
century.. The United States fought a similar war with Mexico from 1846 to 1848, waged a war
off annihilation against the American Indians, and intervened militarily against sovereign states
manyy times before and after the World War n. Liberal states invade weak non-liberal states and
displayy a striking distrust in dealing with powerful non-liberal states (Doyle, 1986: 1157).
Anotherr assumption of liberalism is that the spirit of war and commerce were mutually
incompatible.. 'Conflicts were caused by states erecting barriers which distorted and concealed
thee natural harmony of interests commonly shared by individuals across the world' (Burchill,
1996:: 35). They assume that trade and cooperation among states rather than military competitionn and territorial control are beneficial. In the contemporary international system it is the
tradingg state rather that the military state that is becoming dominant. Therefore, liberals suggest
thatt free movement of commodities, capital and labour is the solution to the problem (Ibid.: 35-
37).. This typical liberal discourse, which reflects the interests of the West, is meant to open the
restt of the world for exploitation.
Amongg other things, one can safely conclude that, first, liberals have been wrong to assume that
theree was a self-evident value system, committed to international harmony and cooperation,
Thesee suspicions are well-founded given that peripheral states have traditionally been the victims of western
3 3 whichh had universal validity. Second, by seeking the expansion (or one can say domination) of
liberalismm (both in economic and political terms) they contributed to the maintenance of the
statuss quo and denied the possibility of systemic change. Third, by ignoring the fact that
industriall powers have achieved economic success with a wider role of the state and by violating
thee principles of the market, which they try to impose on the developing world, they seek to
weakenn the role of the state to clear the way for the creation of a global market society in which
thee North will maintain its dominance. As Noam Chomsky,4
in his lecture at the University of
Capee Town in 1997, points out:
Freee market theory comes in two varieties: the official doctrine, and what we might call 'really
existingg free market doctrine': market discipline is good for you, but I need the protection of the
nannyy state. The official doctrine is imposed on the defenseless, but it is 'really existing doctrine' that
hass been adopted by the powerful since the days when Britain emerged as Europe's most advanced
Thee gap between rich and poor countries from 1960 is substantially attributed to protectionist
measuress of the rich. ... the industrial countries, by violating the principles of free trade, are costing
thee developing countries an estimated S50 billion a year - nearly equal to the total flow of foreign
assistancee - much of it publicly-subsidized export promotion.
Theyy also ignore the fact that unregulated free trade policies exacerbate the gap between the rich
andd the poor within and between states. Moreover, liberals do not take into account the fact that
byy prescribing only one path, liberalism, to economic development they contribute to the
destructionn of community life in the developing world. Finally, liberals failed to ask how the
state,, liberal or otherwise and the states-system have been constituted and reconstituted. They
ratherr took them as they are given for granted.
1.22 REALISM AND NEO-REALISM
Itt is important to note that the following fundamental assumptions formed the basis of the realist
approach:: (1) The reification of the state. What this entails is that the modern nation-state was
seenn as the most desirable form of political organization: conceptions of national sovereignty
weree regarded as the natural political conditions of humankind. (2) The international system was
consideredd anarchic, that is, without an overarching authority to regulate the behavior of nationstates.. (3) States are the primary actors in international relations because they retain a monopoly
onn the legitimate use of violence (Burchill, 1996: 80).
Realismm (as an academic tradition), which is regarded as the most influential theoretical
traditionn in international relations, started mainly by criticizing liberal internationalism. For
instance,, according to Carr (1946: 10) realism '... is a necessary corrective to the exuberance of
utopianism'' which had ignored the central element of power in its consideration of international
politics.. For realists, thus, 'until the unequal distribution of power in the international system
becamee the central focus of a dispassionate analysis of the international system, the root causes
off conflict and war would not be properly understood' (Burchill, 1996: 68-69).
Carrr (1946, 63-64) not only criticized liberalism but also identified three foundation-stones of
realistt philosophy: (1) history is the sequence of cause and effect, whose course can be analyzed
andd understood by intellectual effort, but not directed by imagination; (2) theory does not create
** Taken from www.zmag.org/chomskv/articles/z9709-davie-l.htm
4 4 practice,, but practice creates theory; and (3) politics are not a function of ethics but ethics of
politics.. Morality is the product of power. Another more interesting point, which is strongly
criticized,, is his understanding of the relations between power and politics. For Carr (Ibid.: 102),
'politics,...,, are in one sense always power politics. ... While politics can not be satisfactorily
definedd exclusively in terms of power it is safe to say that power is always an essential element
off politics'. He further argues:
Failuree to recognize that power is the essential element of politics has hitherto vitiated all attempts to
establishh international forms of government, and confused nearly every attempt to discuss the subject.
Powerr is an indispensable instrument of government. To internationalize government in any real
sensee means to internationalize power; and international government is , in effect, government by that
statee which supplies the power necessary for the purpose of governing' (Ibid.: 106-107).
Thee new international order can be built only on a unit of power sufficiently coherent and sufficiently
strongg to maintain its ascendancy without being itself compelled to take sides in the rivalries of lesser
unitss (Ibid.; 235).
Itt is mainly because of this last point that critiques, like Cox (1986: 211-239), rightly criticized
realismm for reducing international relations to great power management.
Anotherr important work in the realist tradition has been Hans Morgenthau's book Politics
amongamong Nations. Morgenthau's attempt was mainly to create a science of international politics
basedd on the positivist methodology of the natural sciences to the study of international relations
(Seee Morgenthau, 1976: 3 for his definition of theory). In his conception of world politics
Morgenthauu considers two different assumptions on the nature of man, society, and politics. The
first,, which he believes resembles the liberal-Utopian, is the assumption that 'a rational and
morall political order derived from universally valid abstract principles, can be achieved here and
now'.. The second, which he identified as realism, assumes that ' the world, imperfect as it is
fromm the rational point of view, is the result of forces inherent in human nature. To improve the
worldd one must work with those forces, not against them' (Ibid.)5
. Based on this contrast,
Morgenthouu (1976: 4-15) lists six principles of political realism which summarize his theoreticall approach to the study of international relations.
AA number of important points have been raised by critiques of Morgenthau's approach. Among
otherr things, he is criticized for ignoring economic considerations in the formulation of foreign
policyy and says very little about the nature of capitalism and its effect on the international order.
Hiss assumption of the nation-state as a unitary actor and the neglecting of 'other international
actors,, such as non-govemmental authorities and international markets' have also been
questionedd (See Burchill, 1996: 77-78 for the details).
55 One crucial criticism here is that Morgenthau by arguing that 'one must work with those forces, not against them'
ignoredd the possibility of change and transformation.
66 These principles are: (1) Politics, like society in general, is governed by objective laws which have their roots in human
nature.. (2) The key to understanding international politics is the concept of interest defined in terms of power. (3) The
formss and nature of state power will vary in time, place and context but the concept of interest remains consistent. (4)
Universall moral principles do not guide state behavior, though state behavior will certainly have moral and ethical
implications.. (5) There is no universally agreed set of moral principles. When states proclaim universal principles they are
merelyy projecting their particular national and cultural codes onto the world as a whole. (6) The political sphere is
autonomouss from every other sphere of human concern, whether they are legal, moral or economic. (Ibid.: 8-11).
5 5 Fromm the discussion above one can conclude that realists accept the present structure and
operationn of international relations and focus on the reproduction of the states-system. By so
doingg realists contributed to the perpetuation of the international system by providing it with an
intellectuall defence and obstructed paths to alternative historical development. Realism failed to
recognizee its contribution to the maintenance of the existing states-system in which social and
economicc inequality within and between societies has been obvious (Ibid.: 80). With these
generall critiques I shall pass onto neo-realism.
Inn a nutshell, neo-realism is partly a response to the challenges posed by interdependency theory
andd partly a corrective to traditional realism's neglect of economic forces. Among others,
Kennethh Waltz's neo-realism (sometimes known as structural realism) is the best evidence for
thiss challenge both as a critique of traditional realism and a substantial intellectual extension of
aa theoretical tradition which was in danger of being outflanked by rapid changes in the contours
off global politics. Neo-realist, accordingto Ashley (1986: 262):
.... set out to develop and to corroborate historically scientific theories that would portray or assume a
fixedd structure of international anarchy; trim away the balance-of-power concept's scientifically
inscrutablee ideological connotations; reduce balance of power's scientific status to that of a systemic
propertyy or situational logic undertaken by rational, calculating, self-interested states; and most
importantly,, disclose the power-political struggle for hegemony behind the economic dynamic that
liberall and radical analysts had too falsely treated in isolation from interstate politics. ... they set out
too construct theories that would lay bare the structural relations - the causal connections between
meanss and ends - that gave form to the dynamic rise and decline and in the light of which a hegemon
mightt orient its efforts both to secure its hegemony and to preserve cooperative economic and ecologicall regimes.
Thus,, neo-realists assume that 'political-economic order follows from the concentration of
political-economicc power.... Power begets order. Order requires power' (Ibid.). By such
assumptionn the neo-realists tried to save 'the realist emphasis on the role of the state power'
Withh these general assumptions, let us briefly look into Waltz's theoretical endeavour. The
fundamentall question in Waltz's theoretical endeavour is: why do states exhibit similar foreign
policyy behaviour despite their different political systems and contrasting ideologies? (See Waltz,
1979,, chapter 5). Waltz focusing his explanation on systemic constraints rather than their
internall composition argues that states in the international system are made functionally similar
byy the constraints of structure. The anarchic realm imposes a discipline on states. They are all
requiredd to pursue security before they can perform any other functions. This means states are
functionallyy similar and they differ vastly in their capabilities. In his words, 'states vary widely
inn size, wealth, power, and form. And yet variations in these and in other respects are variations
amongg alike units....States are like in the tasks that they face, though not in their abilities to
performm them. The differences are of capability, not of function' (Ibid.: 96)7
AA number of critical points should be raised with regard to Waltz's unit-structure relationship,
forr it is relevant in understanding structural changes. First, Waltz's conception of unit-structure
Itt is worthwhile to consider how Waltz understands system, structure, and the relations between unit and structure. For
Waltzz (1979: 79-80), 'a system is composed of structure and interacting units. The structure is the system-wide component
thatt makes it possible to think of the system as a whole.... Structure is defined by the arrangement of its parts....and by
thee principle of that arrangement'. He further argues, that 'the concept of structure is based on the fact that units
differentlyy juxtaposed and combined behave differently and in interacting produce different outcomes' (Ibid.: 81).
6 6 relationshipp leaves little or no room for systemic change induced by the units themselves
(Linklater,, 1995: 252). In other words, states are virtually powerless to alter the system in which
theyy find themselves trapped (Ibid.) or the system cannot be fundamentally altered by the states
whichh comprise it. Second, the pacification of a core of liberal-democracies and the increasing
numberr of states choosing liberal democratic orders pose a challenge for neo-realism's
contentionn that the unit can do little to alter the structure of the system (Doyle, 1986). However,
onee can also argue that the newly joining states are forced by the dominant liberal internationalism.. Third, Waltz neutralizes or reifies the international system. According to Ashley (1984:
228),, 'what emerges from neo-realism is a positivist structuralism that treats the given order as the natural
order,, limits rather than expands political discourse, negates or trivializes the significance of variety across
timee and space, subordinates all practices to an interest in control'. In general, neo-realism fails to note
thatt the meaning and importance of sovereignty are socially constituted and changes over time
(Linklater,, 1995: 254). Understanding its purpose, therefore, Cox (1986: 208) places neorealismm in the category of "problem-solving theory' which takes the world as it finds it, with the
prevailingg social and political relations and institutions into which they are organized, as the
givenn framework for action. He further argues that neo-realism reduces international relations to
greatt power management by legitimating a political order which favours the powerful and is
hostilee to change (Ibid.,: 211-239). It is this nature of realism and its neo-realist version that
makess it irrelevant with regard to Africa which is a disadvantaged (victimized) continent in the
internationall system that realism is trying to legitimatize.
Twoo other assumptions of realism and neo-realism have also been criticized as they are
irrelevantt for the study of the Third World. First, neo-realism is wrong to assume that 'like
units'' populate the international system. Most Third World states fail in a multiplicity of ways
too meet the criteria for being Westphalia states on the European/Western model (Buzan, 1998:
214).. Similarly Escude (1998: 66) also argues that states are not 'like units' and there are
differentt types of states: (a) great powers; and (b) weak states, which are divided into those that
tendd to abide by a citizen-centric rationality and those that clearly abandon citizen-centric
rationality.. In turn, these different types of states are functionally differentiated according to
whetherr they rule, obey, or rebel (Ibid.). Second, neo-realism's assumption of a sharp differentiationn between the political world inside the state (hierarchy, that is, a central governing
authority),, and the political universe between states (anarchy, that is, no central governing
authority)) is also wrong (Buzan, 1998: 215). Two points are important here. One is that many
Thirdd World states are weakly developed to qualify for hierarchy, and that de facto much of
theirr domestic politics has anarchic qualities. The other is that there are significant elements of
hierarchyy in relations between the more developed core and the less developed periphery (Ibid.).
Thee third theoretical perspective, which is worth examining, is rationalism, especially the works
off influential thinkers such as Wight, Bull, Watson and Vincent. Rationalism focuses neither on
thee system of states nor upon the community of humankind but upon what it regards as the basic
realityy which realism and idealism ignore, this being the phenomenon of international order
(Linklater,, 1996: 94). In other words, explaining the level of order that exists between political
entitiess which refuse to submit to a higher political authority is the key to the rationalist project
(Ibid.;; 96). In this respect, rationalists tried to explain how the international system and
internationall society came into being with some sort of order. According to Wight (1977: 33),
'...aa states-system will not come into being without a degree of cultural unity among the
7 7 members'.. Bull (1977), though he has a similar position, argues that international society can
existt without there being a culture common to all members. For Vincent (cited in Linklater,
1996:: 97), 'the basic theme which ensures the working of the international society is functional
ratherr than cultural... in configuration. The pragmatic need to co-exist is sufficient to produce
... aa diplomatic culture ... which preserves order between political associations with diverse
culturess and ideology'. The questions that should be raised here are how the international
systemm of international society has been established (voluntarily or under coercion as happened
duringg colonialism). Who identifies the common interests and values? Who makes the rules and
Theree are two main points worth noting on the question of how order and change are conceptualizedd by members of the rationalist school. First, as Adam Watson (1987: 151) argues, "... the
regulatoryy rules and institutions of a system usually, and perhaps inexorably, develop to the point where the
memberss become conscious of common values and the system becomes an international society'. For
Watson,, 'in the past common values and ethical norms, unlike regulatory mechanisms,
developedd and became codified only within a common cultural framework, even though they
tooo might then spread beyond it...'(Ibid.). Second, rationalism strongly insists that international
orderr should not be taken for granted. It is a precarious achievement which can be destroyed by
thee emergence of aggressive powers but rationalism raises the question of how far a secure
internationall order can be transformed further to satisfy demands for morality and justice
(Linklater,, 1996: 95). Thus, Wight (1977: 192) notes, ... the fundamental political task at all times
(is)) to provide order, or security, from which law, justice and prosperity may afterwards develop. The state
providedd security for five centuries: it can no longer. The task is primarily military, secondly governmental,
andd thirdly economic'. But according to Wight, historical development produced these conditions
inn reverse order. Political development limped behind economic, and military behind political
Likee liberalism and realism rationalism has its basic shortcomings which I can not discuss here
forr lack of space (for some of the critiques see Linklater, 1996: 114). However, it is important to
pointt out that, among other things, rationalism would have been relevant for the study of the
Thirdd World, if it had been engaged with modem social and political theory and especially with
criticall theory in its understanding of international order and how it came about, and in its effort
too identify processes of change immanent within existing orders (Ibid.).
Beforee passing onto the discussion on the remaining theories of international relations, it is
importantt to make a number of general points regarding the three theories discussed above: (1)
Thee general aim of Liberalism, realism and rationalism is to make the existing relations, institutions and
orderr work smoothly by dealing effectively with particular sources of trouble. They don't question the
patternn of relations and institutions. As a result, they usually fait to show an alternative to the existing
structuree of the state and the international system other than reproducing what is prevailing. (2) They take
thee state and the international system as given and permanent. They ignore the fact that both the state and
thee international system are socially constituted and reconstituted. In other words, their concern (especially
neo-realist)) with continuity and a logic of reproduction, made them neglect the existence of a logic of change.
Theyy neutralize and reify the international system by treating structures, which have specific and transitory
historyy as if they were permanent. (3) They reflect the interests of the powerful and the dominant forces and
ignoree the weak and the disadvantaged. Because of their sole focus on the powerful, especially the
superpowerss and the West, and their obsession with balance of power, objective law, hierarchy and anarchy,
internationall order, war, etc., they ignored or failed to give due attention to the Third World. (4) They are
extremelyy abstract to the point that they omitted to understand/explain what is going on in every day life,
especiallyy in the South. (5) Most importantly, they do not focus on the betterment of humankind, its
emancipationn and freedom.
8 8 Itt is crucial to further elaborate, as is indicated at the beginning of this chapter and in point 3 and
44 above, why the relevance of these theories for the study of the Third World in general and
Africaa in particular is questionable. Their basic assumptions, among others, of an anarchical
internationall system, the unitary nature of the international system, state as 'like units',
sovereignty,, war and peace, etc. are all based on the experience of the Western world. Let us
veryy briefly look into some of these assumptions. The assumption of an anarchical international
systemm is difficult to apply in the situation of most of the Third World countries. Contrary to
whatt neo-realists wanted us to believe, "the interstate system is not characterized by 'anarchy',
butt by an incipient and imperfect 'hierarchy' in which we find states that command, states that
obey,, and states, without the power to command, that refuse to obey" (Escude, 1998: 61). In the
Thirdd World where internal war, conflict and disorder dominate the political scene the principle
off anarchy and its resulting security dilemma might be more applicable to the internal realm of
weakk and collapsing states than the international relations among the industrial countries
(Holsti,, 1998: 124).
Thee conception of statehood, which is generally identified with Western democratic, constitutionall political institutions, an effective government, inviolate geographical boundaries, and a
monopolyy over the use of force within those boundaries, does not fit easily into most Third
Worldd countries (Neuman, 1998: 6). The arbitrary nature of the boundaries drawn by colonial
powerss are not often acceptable by the various groups (ethnic, regional, religious, etc.). Ruling
centrall governments are frequently perceived as threats to be challenged. Governments usually
faill to control large areas within their territorial jurisdiction for extended periods of time. Laws
andd regulations cannot be enforced with confidence and are not always complied with (Ibid.).
Thus,, in many states in the Third World elements of anarchy dominate the political landscape to
suchh an extent that little semblance of political order is visible within their juridical boundaries
(Ayoob,, 1998: 37).
Thee other concept closely associated with statehood, sovereignty, is equally troublesome.
Sovereigntyy of the state in the Third World is challenged both by external intervention and
internall struggle. Therefore, sovereignty, for Neuman (1998: 10), is a relative variable 'that
appliess in some cases and not in others, or it exists in varying degree in different countries
duringg different time periods in diverse parts of the world'.
Withh regard to war and peace, contemporary realism starts with the assumption that the real
problemm of international relations is war between great powers. The peripheries are simply
unimportant,, indeed invisible. Neo-liberal theories similarly seek to explain primarily the nature
off relations between modern industrial countries of the North. As Holsti (1998: 105) put it,
'despitee ignoring international politics outside the European/cold war context, most internationall theorists have presented their descriptive and explanatory structures as universal'.
However,, if one looks into the pattern of war since 1945 in the peripheries one sees that they
havee been fundamentally different from the pattern of war in Europe between 1648 and 1945.
Thee incidence of interstate war in the Third World has been substantially lower than the
incidencee of war in Europe (Ibid.). Wars in the Third World have been predominantly within
states,, not between states. Similar differences exist with regard to arms races, and arming
governmentss in the Third World which has not been directed at external forces but at internal
forces.. Thus, the problem of interstate war is not the crucial problem facing most Third World
countries.. This means that international relations theory as it has been developed, mainly
9 9 focusingg on interstate war, over the past 250 years will be of limited relevance in helping to
explainn the crucial issues facing contemporary Third World states (Ibid.: 107). For these and
otherr related reasons the three theoretical traditions seem to be less relevant, in analyzing the
politicall development in general and the state, its crisis and refugee migration in Africa in
particular.. With these general remarks I now turn to the more relevant theories of international
Onee of the fundamental contributions of Marxism is historical materialism. Halliday identifies
fourr general themes of historical materialism which can be seen as defining and constituting the
intellectuall position advanced by Marx and Engels: (1) Determination by socio-economic factors.
Thiss means that 'the modern inter-state system emerged in the context of the spread of
capitalismm across the globe, and the subjugation of pre-capitalist societies. This socio-economic
systemm underpinned both the character of individual states and their relations with each other:
noo analysis of international relations is possible without reference to capitalism, the social
formationss it generated and the world system they comprise' (Halliday, 1994: 61). (2) Historical
determination.determination. History influenced present behaviour, therefore the events or character of any
societyy could only be seen in their historical context. (3) The centrality of classes as actors in
politicalpolitical life. If within a particular state classes act to subject and control those less powerful than
themselves,, they act internationally to ally with groups similar to themselves when this is
beneficial,, and to compete with them by peaceful or military means, when rivalry is preferred.
(4)) Conflict and revolution. Conflict is a historical and social concept, pertaining to relations
betweenn different classes and social groups, and generated by differences in socio-economic
positions.. Conflict is not only inevitable, given inequalities in wealth and economic position,
butt also a major dynamic factor in the politics of the international system as well as in that of
individuall societies. The culmination of such conflicts can take place in one of two ways, or in a
combinationn of the two: war and revolution (Ibid.: 59-66). If this tenet of historical materialism is
extendedd to the international', Halliday (Ibid.) argues, "then it suggests that the central concern of
Internationall Relations becomes not security, and the actions of the nation-states directed to defending and
enhancingg it, but rather conflict, and the ways in which this is generated, conducted, and resolved'
Marxism'ss impact, moreover, is clearly evident in the effort to construct a political economy of
internationall relation which analyses the interplay between states and markets, the states-system
andd the capitalist world economy, the spheres of power and production. Thus, it is imperative to
reconsiderr Marxism, to appreciate its considerable strengths and learn from its undoubted
weaknesses.. To begin with, the emphasis upon the revolutionary impact of capitalist globalizationn upon human society is one of Marx and Engels' main contributions to the history of
internationall thought. As Linklater (1996: 123) points out, their 'inside-out analysis for their
explanationn of the unprecedented integration of the species in the age of capitalism' is crucial in
analysingg the capitalist world order. The essence of capitalism is, for Marx, 'to strive to tear
downn every barrier to intercourse, to conquer the whole earth for its market and to annihilate the
tyrannyy of distance by reducing to a minimum the time spent in motion from one place to
another'' (Ibid.). With regard to the crisis of Africa and the resulting refugee migration, this is
onee fundamental issue (the incorporation of the continent into the capitalist world system and its
disadvantagedd position) that should be taken into account. It is the distortion of the gradual
developmentt of Africa, which resulted from the late incorporation of the continent into the
capitalistt world system, that is one of the major causes of the crisis.
10 0 Furthermore,, Marxism's analysis of globalization and fragmentation as two sides of the coin of
capitalistt development and its emphasis on the deep tensions between the agents of universalizationn and particularistic loyalties are equally important. Equally important is the recognition of
unevenn development of world capitalism in which the metropolitan core exploited the periphery
(Ibid.:: 127-128). This is a very fundamental point which will be used in the coming chapters in
analyzingg the impact of the uneven development of capitalism and the incorporation of Africa
intoo the world capitalist economic system on the political and economic development of the
continent.. It is also important to understand the anti-colonial struggle and its results.
Farr more relevant for this research are the more recent theories of imperialism often described
ass neo-Marxist which are not only based on but transcend Marxism. For instance, Gunder Frank
assertss that the alliance between the dominant class interests in the core and the periphery
obstructedd the economic development of peripheral regions. In his words, 'once a country or a
peoplee is converted into the satellite of an external capitalist metropolis, the exploitative
metropolis-satellitee structure quickly comes to organize and dominate the domestic economic,
politicall and social life of that people' (Frank, 1967: 10), which results in its underdevelopment.
Thus,, Frank (Ibid.: xi) argues, national capitalism and national bourgeoisie do not and cannot
offerr any way out of underdevelopment. He further points out that 'no country which had been
firmlyy tied to the metropolis as a satellite through the incorporation into the world capitalist
systemm has achieved the rank of an economically developed country, except by finally abandoningg the capitalist system' (Ibid.: 11). Only the act of national secession from the world capitalist
economyy would give peripheral societies the capacity to industrialize autonomously. Wallerstein
(1979,, see for instance p. 18-22) also stresses that capitalism could not bring about the
industrializationn of the world as a whole, it rather creates core, semi-periphery and periphery.
Thus,, world system perspective emphasizes the role of peripheral and semi-peripheral states and
movementss in challenging the political principles of the capitalist world economy and the
culturall hegemony of the west (Ibid., 280-281 and 292-293). Both Frank's dependency theory
andd Wallerstein's world system theory stress the contradiction of the uneven development of
capitalismm that results in international, regional and national polarization.
Marxismm also contributed to the development of the notion of global hegemony in the neoGramsciann school of international political economy (see Gill, 1993). Cox's recent work can
oncee again be a good illustration8
. Moreover, the neo-Gramscian perspective, by seeking to
identifyy counter-hegemonic forces (nationalist movements, socialist groups and cultural
movements)) within the global order, challenges the neo-realist claim that explaining the
reproductionn of international anarchy is the primary task of international relations (Ibid.: 133-
134).. Cox's writings therefore link international political economy with critical social theory.
'Politicall economy', Cox (1995: 32) argues, '... is concerned with the historically constituted frameworks
orr structures within which political and economic activity takes place. It stands back from the apparent fixity
off the present to ask how the existing structures came into being and how they may be changing, or they may
Coxx (1993: 264) distinguishes two meanings of hegemony: (1) 'dominance of one state over others, the ability of the
dominantt state to determine the conditions in which interstate relations are conducted and to determine the outcomes in
thesee relations'. (2) 'the dominant state and the dominant social forces sustain their position through adherence to
universalizedd principles which are accepted or acquiesced in by a sufficient proportion of subordinate states and social
forces'.. This implies intellectual and moral leadership. Global hegemony operates through alliances between elites in core
andd industrializing societies and through the mechanisms of control afforded by global economic and political institutions
(Linklater,, 1996: 133). Such understanding is crucial in explaining the role of the African elite in serving the interests of
thee various forms of international capital.
11 1 bee induced to change. In this sense, political economy is critical theory.' In this respect, Cox (1986: 207)
arguess that knowledge is always for someone and for some purpose: it is never value free. Based
onn this assumption Cox identifies two forms of knowledge: problem solving and critical theory
Furthermore,, the contribution of Marxism is also evident in its critique of liberal economics. For
Marx,, the liberal conviction that private property is a feature of all social orders gave the class-based
inequalitiess of the capitalist order the illusionarv authority of natural law. The liberal idea of private
propertyy did not mirror an unchanging reality but helped to reproduce an order which was biased towards
particularr class interests. Therefore, the contention that certain modes of inquiry are not an innocent
interpretationn of an immutable reality but possess the ideological function of underpinning mutable and
unjustt social order is essential to many contemporary debates in international relations' Linklater (1996:
134).. This critique has exposed the problem-solving character and ideological functions of
liberall economics, and replaced its weary emphasis on the supposedly immutable character of
internationall relations with a critical inquiry into the prospect for new principles and forms of
sociall and political organization (Ibid.).
Whatt is the relevance of Marxism for refugee studies? In simple terms, the Marxist approach is
usefull both directly and indirectly. Directly, its focus on the expansion of capitalism and its
exposuree of its evil nature, its analysis of globalization and fragmentation as two sides of the
samee coin of capitalist development and the resulting global inequality, its concern for the
humann race in general and its emancipation, and its emphasis on the inevitable transformation of
thee existing system provide a useful insight for analysing refugeeism and its possible causes.
Indirectly,, as is indicated above, Marxism has contributed to the critique on realism and helped
thee development of dependency, world system, critical and postmodern theories in international
relationss (the last two will be discussed below). Furthermore, Marxism has also contributed to
thee articulation of the Gramscian and Neo-Gramscian school of international political economy.
Thesee different and refined versions of Marxism, which are not only based on but transcend
Marxism,, are crucial for understanding the complex problems of the Third World in general and
Africaa in particular and the resulting refugee migration. They are also useful in the search for a
1.55 CRITICAL THEORY
Inn order to comprehend the basic assumption of critical theory and its relevance to this research
itt is crucial to start with the question what is critical theory?'" '... Critical theory is a concern to
comprehendd the central features of contemporary society by understanding its historical and
sociall development, and tracing contradictions in the present which may open up the possibility
off transcending contemporary society and its ... forms of domination (Devetak, 1996: 146). In
thiss respect, critical theory questions taken-for-granted assumptions and beliefs, and challenges
manyy conventional practices, ideas and ideals (Gibson, 1986: 2). Critical theory is not simply
explanatory,, but is committed towards a more just and rational society (Ibid.). Thus, in asserting
thatt individuals and groups should be in control of their own lives, it has as its goal that people
shouldd be able to determine their destinies.
'' The distinction between problem-solving and critical theories will be discussed later.
100 On the historical origin, development and shift of emphasis of critical theory, see Morrow, 1994 and Stirk, 2000.
12 2 Inn this respect, critical theory claims to provide enlightenment concerning the actual conditions
off social life by focusing on the true interests of individuals and groups. 'Interest' here refers to
'thee needs and concerns of particular groups, especially to the advantages (disadvantages) they
possess,, in the sense of 'self-interest' or 'vested interests" (Gibson, 1986: 5). Privileged groups
alwayss have an interest in maintaining the status quo to protect their advantages. On the
contrary,, disadvantaged groups have an interest in change in order to remove the disabilities
theirr detrimental position involves. Thus, focusing on interest means that critical theory sees
conflictt and tension rather than harmonic consensus as a central feature of social life. According
too Gibson (Ibid.), therefore, 'identification of conflicting interests is more truly revealing than other
approaches.. It yields valid representation of reality and probes more powerfully into the nature and causes
off our social world. In its search for the interest served by knowledge or social practices, critical theory
claimss to lay bare the springs of human action as it exposes the roots of injustice and inequality'. Most
importantly,, critical theory attempts to reveal those factors, which prevent groups and individualss from taking control of, or even influencing, those decisions that crucially affect their lives. In
thee exploration of the nature and limits of power, authority and freedom, critical theory claims
too afford insight into how a greater degree of autonomy could be available. It does not only
providee deeper awareness of a person's true interest; more than that; it can set people free.
Unlikee scientific theory, it claims to provide guidance as to what to do. It can also be used to
changee the world to liberate it from inequalities and unfair restrictions' (Ibid.: 6). This characteristicc marks out critical theory's true distinctiveness: its claim to be emancipatory.
Too further understand the major assumptions of critical theory and its relevance to refugee
studiess it will be useful to highlight the basic epistemological differences between critical
theory,, on the one hand, and positivism, traditional conception of theory and problem solving
theory,, on the other hand. Critical theory holds that to use the methods and assumptions of the
naturall sciences in the study of society is to hamper the pursuit of truth. It rejects the notion of
givennesss in social life. Nothing significant in human society is 'given' or 'natural'. Critical
theoryy argues that in human affairs all 'facts' are socially constructed, humanly determined and
interpreted,, and hence subject to change through human means (Ibid.: 4). It also asserts that no
sociall fact is value free, language is always loaded, and objectivity depends on where you
happenn to be standing or, rather, placed in the social world (Ibid.).
Traditionall conceptions of theory claim that subject and object must be strictly separated in
orderr to theorize properly. It assumes that there is an external world out there to study, and that
ann inquiring subject can study this world in a balanced and objective manner by withdrawing
fromm the world it investigates, and leaving behind any ideological beliefs, values or opinions
whichh would invalidate the inquire (Devetak, 1996: 147). On the contrary, critical conceptions
off theory, 'recognizing that theories are always embedded in social and political life, ... such
conceptionss of theory recognize the unavoidability of taking their orientation from the social
matrixx in which they are situated, their guiding interest is one of emancipation from rather than
legitimizationn and consolidation of, existing society' (Ibid.).
Differentt purposes for social and political inquiry is the basis of the distinction between problem
solvingg theory and critical theory made by Robert Cox in his assessment of the impact of recent
developmentss in social theory for the study of International Relations. According to Cox (1986:
207),, 'theory is always for someone and for some purpose. All theories have a perspective. ... There is ....
noo such thing as theory in itself, divorced from a standpoint in time and space. When any theory so
representss itself, it is the more important to examine it as ideology, and to lay bare its concealed
perspective'.. Similarly Hoffman (1987: 237) also points out that theory never exists in a vacuum.
13 3 Itt is inevitably the product of a certain historical period and circumstances, a reflection of a
particularr social and political order. In this respect, Hoffman distinguishes between theoretical
perspectivess on the basis of the purpose of theory. Theory can either be a guide to solving
problemss within the terms of a particular perspective (problem solving theory), or it can reflect
onn the process of theorizing itself, which raises the possibility of choosing a different perspectivee (critical theory) in which case the problematic becomes one of creating an alternative world
orderr (Ibid.). An alternative order which can help the realization of the emancipation of human
beingss from their sufferings.
Problem-solvingg theory does not question the present order, critical theory, on the other hand,
standss apart from the prevailing order of the world and asks how that order came about. Unlike
problem-solvingg theory, it does not take institutions and social and power relations for granted
butt calls them into question by concerning itself with their origins and how and whether they
mightt be in the process of changing. Critical theory is directed to the social and political
complexx as a whole rather than to the separate parts. Thus, it is a theory of history concerned not
justt with the past but with the continuing process of historical change (Cox, 1986: 208-209).
Furthermore,, 'critical theory allows a normative choice in favor of a social and political order different
fromm the prevailing order, but limits the range of choice to alternative orders which are feasible transformationss of the existing order. A principal objective of critical theory, therefore, is to clarify this range of
possiblee alternatives. ... In this way critical theory provides a guide to strategic action for bringing about an
alternativee order, whereas problem-solving theory is a guide to tactical actions which, intended or
unintended,, sustain the existing order' (Ibid.: 210). Though it refuses to take the prevailing order as
itt finds it, critical theory does not simply ignore it. It accepts that humans do not make history
underr conditions of their own choosing, and so a detailed examination of present conditions
mustt necessarily be undertaken. Nevertheless, the order, which has been given to us, is by no
meanss neutral, necessary or historically invariable. Critical theory views the prevailing order of
sociall and political relations as a historical production which must not only be explained but
Anotherr important point worth considering is critical theory's focus on the social totality and its
emphasiss on a holistic methodology. This methodology comprises a moment of abstraction,
wheree a specific structure or object is temporarily lifted from its context in order to be studied in
isolation,, and a moment of reconstruction, where that which is abstracted is re-inserted into the
whole.. Only when the whole had been understood ... would the analysis be complete' (Devetak,
1996:: 156). This reconstructive movement which leads towards the construction of a large
picturee of the whole distinguishes critical from traditional theories (Ibid.: 156).''
Finally,, critical theory's focus on the full range of modernity's global power relations to provide
bothh a historical and structural explanation of power relations which frame the prevailing world
orderr is crucial in understanding how global stratification and inequality came about and then
persisted.. In this respect, Cox's (1989) historical structure approach can be one good example.
Inn contrast to the individualist approach of realism Cox's (Ibid.: 37) approach 'focuses on the
structuree that constitutes the framework or parameters for action and that shapes the characters of the
individuall actors.... It tries to explain why both are as they are. Actors are conditioned by the resources,
norms,, expectations, and institutions of societies in which they grew up. They are limited by the socioeconomicc and military pressure of their environment. They are products of history'. Cox also views the
statee and its functions, roles, and responsibilities as socially and historically determined. Thus,
whereass the state is taken for granted by realists, critical theory seeks to provide a social history
111 This also applies to Marxism.
14 4 off the state (Devetak, 1996: 159). Furthermore, Cox (1986: 37) argues that a comprehensive
understandingg of the present order and its structural characteristics must account for the
interactionn between social forces, state, and world orders. Within Cox's (Ibid.: 225) approach,
'thee world can be represented as a pattern of interacting social forces in which states play an
intermediatee though autonomous role between the global structure of social forces and local
configurationn of social forces within particular countries'. This is an important approach which
willl help to explain how the 'modern state' in Africa is shaped by its domestic and international
environment.. It is also crucial in understanding how the territorial sovereign state came into
beingg and how it is currently in crisis.
Too sum up, the distinctive contribution of critical theory, as Devetak (1996: 173) puts it, relates
too three broad areas: '(1) the historical-sociological analysis of the structure of modern world politics; (2)
thee philosophical critique of particularism and exclusion; and (3) the philosophical inquiry into the
conditionss under which emancipation in world politics is possible1
. The common theme to all three areas
iss the sovereign state. The sovereign state as a central actor on the world stage is the foremost
examplee of a particularistic or exclusionary political institution; and, as a result, it is a formidablee obstacle to emancipation (Ibid.). Critical international theory's aim of developing an
alternativee theory and practice of international relations thus centers on the possibility of
overcomingg the sovereign state and inaugurating post-sovereign world politics. Linklater
(1996b:: 279-280) also notes two crucial achievements of critical theory: first, the assumption
thatt knowledge does not arise from the subject's neutral engagement with an objective reality
butbut reflects pre-existing social purposes and interests. Second, critical theory opposes the claims
thatt existing structures are immutable. The central objection of these claims is that the notions
off immutability supports structured inequalities of power and wealth which are in principle
alterable.. Thus, critical theory investigates the prospects for new forms of community in which
individualss and groups can achieve higher levels of freedom.
Inn the light of the insights acquired from critical theory, though the detail will be the focus of the
followingg chapters, it is important to make the point that refugee migration is a direct result of
thee structure of the prevailing international system and the social construction and reconstructionn of the sovereign state. Thus, we have critical theory's concern and emphasis on: (1) the
conceptionn of enlightenment and emancipation of humankind; (2) questioning things which are taken as
givenn by the realist: the international system, sovereign state, interdependence, international order etc.; (3)
thee conception of the prevailing system and structure as it is not neutral, necessarily invariable but a
historicall production which must not be only explained but transformed; and (4) explaining the sovereign
statee as a particularistic and exclusionary political institution and as a result, a formidable obstacle to
emancipation;; all are crucial for understanding the territorial sovereign state, its crisis and refugee
migrationn in Africa.
Somee of the fundamental assumptions of postmodernism, as Vasquez (1995: 218-223) points
out,, can be summarized as: (1) The arbitrary nature of modernity. Postmodernism not only denies
progress,, but rejects the notions that modernity is the end of history, the perfection of humanity.
Forr post-modernists, there is no optimal way of doing things, and there is no one truth but many
truths.. (2) The realization that what exists in the world is choice posing as truth. Nothing is
necessary.. The arrangements that do exist were created by human beings either consciously or
otherwise.. Such constructions were in fact choices that were made. They were choices in the
sensee that other arrangements could have been selected by struggle within history. Rather than
15 5 seeingg things as arbitrary choices born out of power and interests, the victors have justified their
choicess in terms of divine law, natural law or scientific analysis. (3) Reality is a social construct.
Iff what exists is arbitrary and the product of human choice, it follows that what exists must have
beenn socially constructed by people. Reality is created and constructed by beliefs and behaviours.. Structures do in fact shape beliefs and behaviours, but these structures are the result of
humann action. (4) Language and conceptual frameworks are prone to self-fulfilling prophecies.
Wheneverr ideas spread and people believe and act on them, and certain rules and norms are
obeyed,, institutionalized and enforced through a variety of social control mechanisms, reality
comess into existence or is constructed. Thus, postmodernism, for Vasquez (Ibid.: 222), directs
uss towards researching how language, conceptual frameworks and paradigms shape the world.
Inn the light of these major assumptions, one of the fundamental contributions of postmodernismm is its conception of power-knowledge relations and the development of the notion of
genealogy.. Though it will not be possible to have a detailed discussion here it is crucial to point
outt that: '...power produces knowledge (and not simply by encouraging it because it serves power or by
applyingg it because it is useful); that power and knowledge directly imply one another; that there is no power
relationn without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not
presupposee and constitute at the same time power relations' (Foucault, 1977: 27-28). " Ashley (1989)
andd Bartelson (1995)14
have also attempted to show the different dimension of powerknowledgee relations.
Moree interesting and relevant to this research is the notion of genealogy,
5 especially the two
dimensionss of the purpose of genealogy: first, the transformation of the question what is...? into
howw is...?'. This means that to determine the forces that give shape to an event or a thing is more
importantt than to attempt to identify its hidden, fixed essence. Second, Post-modernism
problematizess the prevailing identity formation which appears normal or natural and refuses to
usee history for the purpose of confirming present identities, preferring to use it instead to disturb
identitiess that have become dogmatized, conventionalized or normalized (Devetak, 1996: 186,
Seee also Smith, 1995: 5-6). This a very important approach which can help to explain and
understandd how the boundaries of African countries have been demarcated, how the idea of the
'modernn state' has been imported into Africa, and how the different concepts of a 'refugee1
thee legal instruments regarding the status of refugees have been developed and applied.
1.6.11 Postmodernism and the State
Anotherr fundamental contribution of postmodernism, which is crucial in understanding the state
andd its crisis, is its conception of the state. Unlike other traditions in international relations,
postmodernismm reconceptualizes the state, sovereignty and violence based on insights gained
122 See also Foucault, 1977: 23; especially on his conception of the 'rule of immanence' see Foucault, 1978: 98.
111 See Ashley 1989: 303 on the knowledge of the state and knowledge of man.
"" See Bartelson 1995: 2 and 83-84 on the historical relationship between sovereignty and truth.
^^ Genealogy is mainly a historical thought which exposes and registers the significance of power knowledge relations
(Devetak,, 1996: 184-185). From the genealogical point of view there is no one single, grand history, but many interwoven
historiess varied in their rhythms, tempo, and power knowledge effects. A genealogical approach is anti-essentialist. It
affirmss the idea that all knowledge is situated in a particular time and place and issues from a particular perspective. The
subjectt of knowledge is situated in and conditioned by, a political and historical context. As a consequence of the
heterogeneityy of possible contexts and positions, there can be no single, archimedean perspective which trumps all others.
Theree is no 'truth', only competing perspectives and regimes of truth (Ibid.).
16 6 fromm genealogy and deconstruction16
. In order to understand how postmodernism addresses the
questionn how the sovereign state is (re) constituted as the normal mode of subjectivism in
internationall relations, let us consider violence, boundaries, identity and statecraft. These are the
keyy factors which make possible the sovereign state.
Violence.Violence. There is a paradox within the relationship between politics and violence: violence is
'thee thing which the modern state is designed to protect citizens against, but also that which
makess possible the modern state as a shelter from violence' (Devetak, 1996: 193). Moreover, as
Kleinn (1994: 38) put it, 'states rely upon violence to constitute themselves as states and to impose
differentiationn between the internal and external'. In Other words, Strategic violence is an ongoing
processs of defining state boundaries, excluding that which differs from its domain, and
punishingg those who would challenge it. Thus, a critical account of violence requires analysis of
itss constitutive role in the making of states (Ibid.). It is, therefore, important to recognize that
violencee supplies a necessary condition, and there would be no modern state without supplementt of violence (Devetak, 1996: 195). In this respect, postmodernism exposes the constitutive
rolee of violence in modern politics. This implies that violence is not merely something to which
aa fully formed state resorts for power political reasons. Rather it is inaugural as well as
augmentativee (Ibid.). Such an understanding is crucial in explaining the violent nature of politics
inn Africa which is trying and/or forced to copy the Western style of modem state which is
constitutedd through violence.
Boundaries.Boundaries. To inquire into the states (re) constitution is partly to inquire into the ways in which
globall political space is partitioned. Thus, postmodernism is concerned with how boundaries are
(re)constitutedd and how bounded communities are socially created, and what the role of the state
andd violence have been in this process, Moreover, postmodernism asks how a certain configurationn of space and power is instituted. And with what consequence? Most importantly it raises
thee question how a particular mode of subjectivity is instituted and copied throughout the world.
Thee basic implication of these questions is that the prevailing mode of subjectivity (the
sovereignn state) is neither natural nor necessary. There is no necessary reason why global
politicall space has to be divided as it is and with the same bearing. Of crucial importance in this
divisionn of political space is the inscription of boundaries. Making boundaries is not an innocent
and/orr pre-political act. Rather, it is a political act with profound political implications as it is
fundamentall to the production and delimitation of political space (Devetak, 1996: 196). In other
words,, there is no political space in advance of boundary inscription and boundaries divide an
interiorr sovereign space from an exterior anarchical space, which means that neither sovereignty
norr anarchy would be possible without the inscription of a boundary to divide political space.
Identity.Identity. The formulation of identity and difference are fundamental to the constitution of the
State.. As Dalby (1990; 19) put it, 'the formulation of fundamental categories of identity and difference
structuress political life according to difference defined as principally in the categories of space and time'.
Thee questions that should be raised in this regard are how have practices and representations of
domesticationn and exclusion imposed political identity? And how has the concept of territorially
definedd self been constructed in opposition to threatening others? The attempt to answer these
questionss is crucial with regard to Africa where the constitution of political identity is fragmentedd and where national and sub-national identities are in competition.
Deconstructionn is a general mode of radically unsettling what are taken to be stable concepts and conceptual
oppositions.. Its main purpose is to demonstrate the effects and costs produced by the settled oppositions, to disclose
thee practical relationship between opposed forms, and lo attempt a displacement of them (Devetak, 1996: 188-189
17 7 Inn traditional approaches, boundaries and identity of the sovereign state are taken to be preestablishedd and settled. In contrast, postmodernism focuses on the discourses and practices
whichh substitute threat with difference in the constitution of identity. As Dalby (1990: 29)
explains,, 'geopolitical discourse constructs the world in terms of self and others, in terms of
cartographicallyy specifiable sections of political space, and in terms of military threats'. In other
words,, the geopolitical creation of external others is integral to the constitution of a political
identifyy (self) which is to be made secure. In addition, the constitution of a coherent, singular
politicall identity often demands the silencing of internal dissent. There can be no internal others
thatt endanger a certain conception of the self, and must be necessarily expelled, disciplined, or
contained.. Identity, thus, is an effect forged, on the one hand, by disciplinary practices which
attemptt to normalize a population, giving it a sense of unity, and on the other, by exclusionary
practicess which attempt to secure the domestic identity through a process of spatial differentiation,, and various diplomatic, military, and defence practices (Devetak, 1996: 198). It is also
importantt to recognize that:
Politicall identity need not be constituted against, and at the expense of, others, but the prevailing
discoursess and practices of security and foreign policy tend to reproduce this reasoning. Moreover,
thiss relation to other must be recognized as a morally and politically loaded relation. The effect is to
allocatee the other to an inferior moral space, and to arrogate the self to a superior one. ...By coding
thee spatial exclusion in moral terms it became easier to legitimate certain politico-military practices
andd interventions which advance national security interests at the same time as they reconstitute
politicall identities ... to the extent that the other is regarded as something not occupying the same
morall space as the self, conduct toward the other becomes more exploitative. This is especially so in
ann international relations where political identity is frequently defined in terms of territorial
exclusion.. (Ibid.: 198-199)
Thee morally and politically loaded nature of the relations of self to others, especially to allocate
thee other an inferior moral space and to arrogate the self to a superior one is essential in
understandingg the relations between Europe and Africa before and during colonialism. It is
importantt in grasping the fundamental assumptions behind the so-called 'civilizing mission' of
Europeanss with regard to the 'backward, uncivilized' Africans. It is also useful in explaining the
interventionn of superpowers in Africa during the cold war in order to prevent strategically
importantt countries from falling under the sphere of influence of the other which is taken to be a
dangerr for the self, be it the West or the East. The current pressure on Africa towards liberalism
andd market economy by the West can also be explained in the same way.
Statecraft.Statecraft. Statecraft is not primarily about relations between different state units, but about the
constructionn and reconstruction of the units themselves (Doty, 1996: 141). Thus, Postmodernismm is interested in how the prevailing modes of subjectivity neutralize or conceal their
arbitrarinesss by projecting an image of normalcy, naturalness, or necessity. For example, Ashley
(1989b:: 268-269) has explored how hegemony normalizes the dominant mode of sovereign
subjectivity.177 'Hegemony refers to the projection and circulation of an 'exemplary' model,
177 By hegemony Ashley does not mean 'an overarching ideology or cultural matrix that encloses political imagination'
norr 'a central agency possessing both the capacities and the will to impose global purpose through its deliberate policies'
(Ashley,, 1989: 268-269). Hegemony is, for Ashley (Ibid.), 'an ensemble of normalized knowledgeable practices, identified
withh a particular state and domestic society..., that is regarded as a practical paradigm of sovereign political subjectivity
18 8 whichh functions as a regulative idea' (Devetak, 1996: 199). One important point that should be
welll noted is the primary function of the 'exemplary model'. Its primary function is to:
....negatee alternative conceptions of subjectivity or to devalue them as underdeveloped, inadequate
orr incomplete. Anomalies are contrasted with the 'proper', 'normal' or 'exemplary' model. For
instance,, 'quasi-states' or 'failed states' represent empirical cases of states which deviate from the
modell by failing to display the recognizable signs of sovereign statehood. In this failure they help to
reinforcee the hegemonic mode of subjectivity as a norm, and to reconfirm the sovereignty/anarchy
oppositionn which underwrites it. In order for the model to have any power at all though, it must be
replicable;; it must be seen as a universally effective mode of subjectivity which can be invoked and
institutedd at any site. The pressures applied on states to conform to normalized modes of subjectivityy are complex and various, and emanate both internally and externally. Some pressures are quite
explicit,, such as military intervention, others less so, such as conditions attached to foreign aid,
diplomaticc recognition, and general process of socialization. The point is that modes of subjectivity
doo not naturally become dominant, they achieve dominance in space and time through power and
imposition.. (Devetak, 1996: 199-200)
Itt seems clear that this has been exactly how the Western idea of the modem state as an
'exemplaryy model' has been imported into many parts of the non-western world, especially into
Africa.. As we can learn from the history of the past one hundred or so years, the western
countriess used their power directly through colonialism and later indirectly through neocolonialismm to export their style of territorial (sovereign) state as a universally effective system
intoo Africa. To do this and by doing this they devalued and negated the indigenous system as
underdevelopedd and backward. This is partially the root cause of the African crisis. Thus, when
thee failure/collapse of the state in Africa is discussed in this research it should be noted that it is
thee western idea of the state as an 'exemplary model' that failed/collapsed. It is this imposition of
thee western model that suppressed the development of an alternative conception (for instance,
whatt the different communities in Africa had for many centuries) of the state in Africa and
resultedd in complete chaos.
Onee basic question that should be raised here is how the state has been made to appear as if it
hadd an essence. In short, 'the state is made to appear as if it had an essence by performative
enactmentt of various domestic and foreign policies, or what might more simply be called
Statecraftt is a practice of differentiation which rentlessly attempts to separate, enframe or totalize a
politicall space. It is a practice operating at the border, and making those borders produce the effect of
thee state as bounded and complete. Statecraft embodies the interminable attempt to constitute or
framee the state's identity against difference, its inside against outside, its sovereignty against anarchyStatecraft,, in short, names the various practices and activities which produce the effect of a complete
statee by inscribing boundaries which constitute an inside and outside (Devetak, 1995: 31).
However,, the state is never settled, sealed or completed. It is, therefore, crucial to understand
thatt the state as an historical emergent and always contested product of multiple practices is an
ongoingg political accomplishment. States are never finished entities, they are necessarily always
inn a process of becoming (Ibid. 32). This is true with regard to Africa more than anywhere else,
wheree the state is contested and the making of the state is dominated by the western conception.
Suchh an understanding is crucial for explaining the complex situation in the continent.
19 9 1.6.22 State Sovereignty as Social Construct
Onee other point that should be considered here is how state sovereignty is socially constituted.
Thee modern principle of state sovereignty has emerged historically as the legal expression of the
characterr and legitimacy of the state. Most fundamentally, it expresses the claim by the state to
exercisee legitimate power within strictly delimited territorial boundaries. This claim now seems
bothh natural and elegant, although it continues to generate familiar and seemingly intractable
problemss (Walker, 1991: 449).
Accordingg to Biersteker and Weber (1996: 3), 'the ideal of state sovereignty is the product of
thee actions of powerful agents and the resistances to those actions located at the margins of
power'.. In this case, the state is considered 'as an identity or agent, and sovereignty, as an
institutionn or discourse, as mutually constitutive and constantly undergoing change and
transformation.. States can be defined in terms of their claims to sovereignty, while sovereignty
cann be defined in terms of interaction and practices of the states' (Ibid.: 11). Therefore, neither
thee state nor sovereignty should be taken as given or fixed and sovereignty should be taken as an
historicallyy contingent social category rather than an inherent quality of stateness (Ibid.: 12).
Moreover,, the components of state sovereignty (territory, population and authority) are
intimatelyy tied up with the construction, reconstruction, and negotiation of boundaries, territorial
boundariess being the most tangible.
Sovereigntyy has two dimensions: internal and external. Internally, sovereignty is defined as a
centeringg of power/authority within a given territory. Externally, relations between states are
understoodd as the negation of the community presumed to be possible within the sovereign
state.. These two readings of state sovereignty seem to express the decisive demarcation between
insidee and outside, self and other, identity and difference, community and anarchy that is
constitutivee of our modern understanding of political space. They affirm a clear sense of here
andd there (Walker, 1991: 456). This is an important conceptualization of sovereignty which is
cruciall in understanding how our conception of a refugee has been shaped and how the destiny
off refugees has been left in the hands of the sovereign state.
Jackson'ss distinction between positive and negative sovereignty is also an important point to be
consideredd in understanding the state sovereignty in Africa. 'Positive sovereignty presupposes
capabilities,, which enable governments to be their own masters: it is a substantive rather than a
formall condition. A positively sovereign government is one which not only enjoys the rights of
non-interventionn and other international immunities but also possesses the wherewithal to
providee political goods for its citizens. It is also a government that can, among other things,
reciprocatee in international commerce and finance' (Jackson, 1990: 29). Positive sovereignty
referss to the capacity to declare, implement, and enforce public policy both domestically and
internationally.. On the contrary, negative sovereignty refers to the 'freedom from outside
interference:: a formal-legal condition. Non-intervention and sovereignty in this meaning are
basicallyy two sides of the same coin' (Ibid.: 27). Negative sovereignty primarily involves decolonization:: it is the distinctive liberty acquired by former colonies as a consequence of the
internationall enfranchisement moment. Thus, negative sovereignty is the legal foundation upon
whichh a society of independent and formally equal states fundamentally rests (Ibid.).
Relatedd to this, it is important to point out that in the current international system, attaining
sovereigntyy (especially positive sovereignty) is embedded within a process of social recognition
20 0 off territorial states. Such recognition is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for realizing
sovereignty.. Beyond formal assertion territorial states pursue projects that construct their
identitiess as states as well as their difference with other states. Such projects of expression
requiree wealth. In capitalism, wealth is the product of a global division of labour and, therefore,
discussionss of sovereignty obligate an understanding of a wealth-producing division of labour
(Inayatullah,, 1996: 51). This is an important point that should be considered in the discussion of
quasi-statee and negative sovereignty in Africa. Such a discussion may be helpful in understandingg the difficulty of realizing positive sovereignty when the wealth necessary for such expressionn is beyond the state's authority.
Whyy is the understanding of sovereignty as a social construct relevant for refugee studies? This
willl be discussed in two of the coming chapters. However, it would be appropriate here to point
outout that it is vital to understand the ambiguity and the controversy surrounding sovereignty,
especiallyy in the case of the collapse of the state and the increasing interest in and necessity of
Too sum up, postmodern critique of the mainstream IR traditions is an important insight for this
project.. A number of points can be made here.18
(1) Postmodernism rejects the notions that
modernityy is the end of history and the perfection of humanity. For a post-modernist, there is no
optimall way of doing things, and there is no one truth but many truths. For instance, postmodernismm denies modern economics' claim that there is solely one way to solve the problem of
foodd and shelter. Such an understanding of modernity especially by the 'traditional' nonEuropeann societies, which have been struggling to copy the European project of modernity, is
cruciall if they are to develop their own alternative way of organizing their communities. (2)
Postmodernistss believe that the socio-political and economic arrangements that do exist were
createdd by human beings either consciously or otherwise. Such constructions were in fact
choicess made in the sense that other arrangements could have been selected by struggle within
history.. (3) They convincingly argue that reality is a social construct. This means that if what
existss is arbitrary and the product of human choice, it follows that what exists must have been
sociallyy constructed by people. Reality is created and constructed by beliefs and behaviours.
Structuress do in fact shape beliefs and behaviors, but these structures are the result of human
action.. (4) Finally, postmodernists' argument that language and conceptual frameworks are
pronee to self-fulfilling prophecies is another important insight. It is important because it will
helpp us understand that whenever ideas spread and people believe and act on them, and certain
ruless and norms are obeyed, institutionalized and enforced through a variety of social control
mechanisms,, reality is constructed. This will direct us towards researching how language,
conceptuall frameworks and paradigms shape the world.
Postmodernismm provides US with: a contribution in understanding the relation of knowledge and power;
thee introduction of a genealogical and deconstruction approach; a critical account of how a particular
representationn (knowledge or perspective) circulates, dominates and takes hold to produce a practical
politicall effect and marginalize others; an emphasis in transforming the question 'what is...?' to 'how is...?'
andd the focus to determine the forces that give shape to an event or a thing rather than to attempt to identify
itss hidden, fixed essence; insight on how the discourses on territorial state and statecraft (inclusion/exclusion
andd inside/outside) shape our imagination. All are crucial in analyzing the historical development
(political,, economic and social) and the current situation in Africa and in explaining the refugee
crisiss in the continent in general and in the Horn of Africa in particular. Most importantly, the
Thiss is mainly based on Vasquez's (1995: 218-223) conclusion.
21 1 focuss of both critical theory and postmodernism on freeing human beings from unnecessary
sociall constraints and the emancipation of the human race is crucial for refugee studies, for it
hass been and will be the refugees that need freedom, the right to live and emancipation more
thann anybody else.
Inn this project the application of this line of research will be vital in explaining how the
conceptionn of tribalism, ethnicity, etc. and the language used to describe the African society in
termss of ethnicity, tribalism, nationalism and the different identities attached to them contributedd to the crisis of the state. It is also important in explaining how the description of Africa as
traditionall and the idea that it has to abandon its traditional nature and replace it with the better
one,, which is modern (European), distorted its development from within. It is also useful in
explainingg how the conception of territoriality and sovereignty of the state, liberal social thought
andd the cold war ideological struggle shape the international legal instruments regarding the
statuss of refugees and its practicality (implementations). It is also crucial in explaining how the
conceptionn of territoriality and sovereignty of the state divided human displacement into internal
andd external (refugee) and left the internally displaced without international protection, and how
thee same conception allowed the state to produce increasing number of refugees and prevented
thee international community doing whatever possible to minimize human suffering.
1.7.. Where does this Research stand?
Finally,, it seems appropriate to make clear where the general theoretical framework of this
researchh stands within the wider theoretical spectrum of international relations. The best way to
doo it is by focusing on four fundamental points on which the various theories of international
relationss differ . (1) The purpose of inquiry. Different traditions have their own underlying
reasonn behind their theoretical undertakings. This can be either to ensure that relations between
statess are managed as smoothly as possible in an effoit to minimize the potential for conflict and
warr (neo-realism) or to produce optimal economic outcomes for citizens of each country based
onn efficiencies produced by market application and by exposing and removing the influence of
thee state from the lives of individuals (neo-liberalism). It can also be to change the international
systemm and seeking new arrangements, which will improve the circumstances of subordinate
andd marginal groups (critical theory) (See Burchill, 1996: 18-20). In the light of these different
purposess of social and political inquiry the purpose of this research will be to make a modest
contributionn to the transformation of the national-state, which has been based on the principle of
exclusion,, and that of the international system, which has been serving the strong powers at the
expensee of the subordinate and marginal groups, which together created refugees in the first
place.. In other words, this research will question the origin, nature and the usefulness of the
'modern'' state imported into Africa. It will also question the international system, in which
Africaa is completely disadvantaged. Finally, it will question the international legal instruments
concerningg refugees. By so doing it seeks the possibility of their transformation.
(2)) The object or level of analysis and the scope of inquiry. Within the level of analysis the differencee centres on the very nature of the subject matter under analysis. In this respect, depending
onn the level at which the question is addressed, certain actors or agents will be privileged above
others,, certain actors will be emphasized and de-emphasized. In this project the major actors
whichh will be emphasized are the national-state, the supra- and sub-national communities.
.. The Tour fundamental points on which theories differ are taken from Burchill, 1996: 16-21.
22 2 However,, these actors will not be taken as given and completed. Rather they will be analyzed as
theyy are in the process of being constituted and reconstituted.
(3)) Methodology. Different theorists emphasize different methodology for the study of internationall relations. For instance, traditionalists emphasize the relative utility of history, law,
philosophyy and other classical methods of academic inquiry, while behaviourists are in favor of
thee quantification of variables, formal hypothesis testing and model building, to reveal the
'realities'' of the international system. More recently, critically-oriented theorists started arguing
thatt the appropriate methodology should be grounded in an emancipator interest in freeing
humann beings from unnecessary social constraints and not a technical interest in social control
(Burchill,, 1996: 20). As is indicated above with regard to the second point, critical theory and
constructivistt approach grounded in an emancipatory interest that will be employed in this
(4)) The relations of IR with other areas of intellectual endeavor. Each academic tradition places
greaterr or lesser emphasis on the importance of disciplinary boundaries. Neo-realists, for
instance,, see the international system as a 'domain apart' that deserves separate treatment.
Criticall theorists, on the contrary, dispute the discrete nature of the discipline and are interested
inn the relevance of the recent developments in social theory and historical sociology for the
studyy of international politics. Many post-modernists, although they see this differently from
criticall theorists,20they regard disciplinary boundaries as exclusionary and part of a structure of
intellectuall regression (Ibid.: 21). In this research, international relation theory is not taken to be
somethingg separate from political theory. Rather, it is political theory seen from a particular
anglee or through a particular filter (Brown, 1992: 8). As Smith (1995: 9) points out, '... political
andd international theory shares the same concern and imperatives and is part or the same theoretical
enterprise,, albeit dealing with a different construction of the political world.... international theory is but
onee aspect of a much wider range of social, political, ethical and economic theory and that they are
aspectss of international theory'. For these reasons and because this research deals with the state,
supra-- and sub-national actors and refugee migration, which cannot be fully explained by
internationall theories alone, much wider theories will be used. Basically, it will be a multidisciplinaryy research which will take into account findings of sociology, anthropology, psychology,
economicss to name but a few, in addition to political science in general and international
relationss in particular.
Ass is indicated in the beginning of this chapter, identifying relevant theories for the study of the
statee and refugee migration in the Horn of Africa was the focus of this chapter. This task is
moree or less completed by identifying Marxism, critical and postmodern theories (especially the
criticall aspect and constructivist approach of postmodernism) as relatively relevant approaches.
However,, this does not mean that I agree with all the arguments made by many of the scholars. I
havee my own reservations about these theories. This will be clear in the coming chapters. With
thiss general remark I now turn to the discussion on the two major issues of this research: The
Africann state and refugee migration. The discussion will be based on the insights acquired from
thee discussion on the various theoretical approaches, namely Marxism, critical and postmodern
Postt modernists are highly suspicious of what they call the 'metanarratives' of liberation and progress. Unlike
anarchists,, who believe the liberation promise of enlightenment is still to be consummated, and critical theorists, who wish
too recast the enlightenment project, many postmodernists want to abandon it altogether, believing it to be a dehumanizing and
ultimatelyy oppressive tradition (Burchill, 1996: 21).