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A philosophical and practical understanding
Elena Chebankova

This chapter investigates both Russia’s role in cultivating a global debate about the shift to a multipolar order, including the desirability of a more diffuse global order, as well as the use of the concept within Russia. The chapter begins by placing Russian discourse on multipolarity within the wider context of Russian thinking on issues of global order, state power, and modernity. It uses this background to highlight the discrepancies between the more theoretical/philosophical approaches to global order in Russian discourse on the one hand, and the more immediate, policy-focused arguments about the ‘need’ for a multipolar order on the other. The chapter identifies four central themes that emerge from both official and scholarly Russian arguments about multipolarity: debates around the notion of ideological-cultural distinctiveness (and specifically a rejection of Western-led ideological universalism), normative arguments in favour of a more equitable redistribution of power among rising and re-emerging powers, a reassertion of Russian nationalism, and the regionalisation of world politics. The chapter also examines specific Russian foreign policy initiatives in recent years and their relationship with normative arguments in favour of constructing a multipolar order. This includes Russian approaches to multilateral groupings including the BRICS, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The discussion argues that Russia’s views on multipolarity tend to fall between the ideas of ‘multiregionalism’ and more traditional notions of great power management, both of which rest on traditional assumptions about the role of the nation state and state sovereignty in world politics.

in National perspectives on a multipolar order
Interrogating the global power transition
Editor: Benjamin Zala

With the rise of new powers and the decline of seemingly unchallenged US dominance, a conventional wisdom is gaining ground in contemporary discourse about world politics that a new multipolar order is taking shape. Yet ‘multipolarity’ – an order with multiple centres of power – is variously used as a description of the current distribution of power, of the likely shape of a future global order, or even as a prescription for how power ‘should’ be distributed in the international system. This book explores how the concept of a multipolar order is being used for different purposes in different national contexts. From rising powers to established powers, contemporary policy debates are analysed by a set of leading scholars in order to provide an in-depth insight into the use and abuse of a widely used but rarely explored concept.

A theoretical framework
Catherine Moury, Stella Ladi, Daniel Cardoso, and Angie Gago

Chapter 1 presents the theoretical framework underlying the book. Cross-cutting the literature on policy change, bargaining, Europeanisation, enlargement and political economy, this chapter outlines the different constraints and incentives faced by governments during and beyond conditionality. It also specifies the authors’ theoretical expectations regarding variation within and across countries.

in Capitalising on constraint
Abstract only
Catherine Moury, Stella Ladi, Daniel Cardoso, and Angie Gago

Chapter 4 looks at Portugal, another interesting case as the Memorandum of Understanding was negotiated by the Socialist caretaker government and implemented by its successor from the centre-right – whose preferences were strongly aligned with those of the lenders. After the bailout, a Socialist government was installed with the support of radical left parties, all of which had promised large-scale reversals during the electoral campaign.

in Capitalising on constraint
Abstract only
Catherine Moury, Stella Ladi, Daniel Cardoso, and Angie Gago

Chapter 5 analyses the margin of manoeuvre of Spanish governments during and after the Eurozone crisis. The Spanish case is theoretically interesting because it is the fourth biggest European economy, thus allowing us to consider the importance of the size of the country in the negotiations with external actors. It is also a special case in that the Spanish Memorandum of Understanding only addressed the financial sector.

in Capitalising on constraint
Nikki Ikani

This chapter takes this book’s analytical framework on three ‘test-drives’, to assessing design and handling. Tested are the 2014/15 changes in response to Russian disinformation, the migration/asylum crisis of 2015 and the European security crisis between 2014 and 2018. In all three cases, the critical juncture included features making reform highly salient. The test-drives illustrate the various possible change outcomes and several reasons for this variety, and provide insight into the conditions under which policy changes are a likely outcome. The East StratCom Task Force illustrates how constructive ambiguity may emerge after crisis, while the asylum crisis mainly sparked symbolic and some first-order changes. The crisis in European security and defence produced first- and second-order policy changes, along with changes essentially symbolic. Not all policy change is substantive, progressive or tangible. Policy changes may cut across threefold categories, and contain elements of all three or elements that fit none.

in Crisis and change in European Union foreign policy
David Blagden

This chapter presents the discourse around multipolarity in the United Kingdom as perhaps the ultimate symptom of the contested and often contradictory arguments about power and status that define the current global power transition. Reflecting what is described as ‘the country’s own tortured concerns with power and status’, the chapter pitches discussion around the emergence of a new multipolar order as being a debate about the nature of ‘greatness’ in international relations itself. This chapter examines London’s now decades-long history of attempting to project an image of itself as a pole of power long after the material bases of its formerly unambiguous global status have atrophied. Ultimately, it argues that the United Kingdom’s dogged persistence in attempting to cultivate and maintain a role as one of the great powers at the global level has hampered its ability to pursue more narrowly defined economic and security interests. In particular, it outlines a set of vital interests that can be secured in a post-unipolar era as long as London can become less fixated on a performative identity divorced from material realities.

in National perspectives on a multipolar order
The republican referendums in South Africa and Rhodesia
Christian D. Pedersen

Since the late nineteenth century, the British monarch was the constitutional head and cultural symbol of Greater Britain, a spiritual nexus providing unity and identity to a worldwide community of Britons. With the advent of decolonisation, however, republicanism emerged as a disruptive force that swept the British imperial world. This chapter sheds light on how monarchism and republicanism was perceived among white anglophone communities during the republican referendums in South Africa (1960) and Rhodesia (1969). These events marked the first and second time the British monarchy was dissolved by whites by popular vote and, as such, signalled bad tidings for the future of Britishness as a global civic idea. In these contexts, the chapter argues, republicanism served as a tool to entrench white domination and thereby wrong-foot the logic of decolonisation. Ultimately, it shows how the republican question was caught up in the processes of decolonisation, new nationalism and the break-up of Greater Britain.

in The break-up of Greater Britain
Differential fees for overseas students in Britain, c. 1967
Jodi Burkett

In 1967 the British government announced that, starting in the 1967–-68 academic year, there would be different tuition fees for ‘home’ and ‘overseas’ students at British universities and colleges. This policy required drawing a clear distinction between those who belonged in Britain and those who did not, and highlighted significant confusion and misunderstanding about oOverseas sStudents. This chapter explores the shifting sands in the way that overseas students were understood. It particularly examines how overseas students were being racialised by both supporters and critics of the new fees as they perpetuated stereotypes of black people, and black students as poor, destitute, and in need of British assistance.

in The break-up of Greater Britain

How did the end of empire affect the projection of British identities overseas? British decolonisation is conventionally understood in terms of the liquidation of the colonial empire in the decades after the Second World War. But it also entailed simultaneous transformations to the self-representation of peoples and cultures all over the world, variously described as British, symbolised by the eclipse of the idea of ‘Greater Britain’. Originally coined by Charles Dilke’s 1868 travelogue of the same name, Greater Britain enjoyed widespread currency throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, before falling into disuse from the 1930s. But Greater British modes of thought, feeling and action persisted into the second half of the twentieth century, becoming embroiled in the global upheavals of imperial decline. Over a remarkably short time span, the ideas, assumptions and networks that had sustained an uneven and imperfectly imagined British world dissolved under the weight of the empire’s precipitate demise. Although these patterns and perspectives have been explored across a range of specific local and national contexts, this collection is the first to examine the wider mesh of interlocking British subjectivities that unravelled at empire’s end.