Daniel A. Bell, Wang Pei

Just Hierarchy between States: On the Need for Reciprocity

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Keywords: Just Hierarchy between States: On the Need for Reciprocity

Is there room for a just hierarchy in the relationship between states, and, more generally, can politics be efficient without a reflection on the actual hierarchical relationships between institutions? In Indian and Chinese classical times, political thinkers developed very elaborate and varied theories on international politics, which took a hierarchical relationship between states as inevitable but have linked it to the establishment of reciprocal relationships that can be «weak» when the two parties calculate the benefits for their own side; and «strong» when the reciprocal relationship helps to generate a real sense of community. The key to articulating hierarchical relationships between subjects seems to be attending to the ritual dimension of associated life: through patterns of ritual action the different subjects are able to interact across (social and cultural) difference within a benign conception of power. Hierarchical rituals are indeed necessary to generate a sense of community and the emotional disposition essential for the powerful to look after the interests of those at the bottom of the hierarchical ladder

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