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Research Guides United Nations Office at Geneva Library & Archives

Audio Guide: The Next Page - Transcripts

Welcome to the UN Library and Archives Geneva's Audio Research Guide! Here you'll find episodes from our own podcast, The Next Page, as well as podcasts and audio from or on the UN system and multilateralism.

Transcript - Episode 40: Conversation (English Excerpt) - Professor Bertrand Badie on inter-sociality and the multilateralism of the future

by Karen Lee on 2020-12-18T09:00:00+01:00 in International relations, Politics and International Relations, Social Affairs | Comments


Karen Lee: Hi, my name is Karen Lee and welcome to The Next Page, the podcast of the United Nations Library & Archives Geneva. This is a brief addition in English of Episode 40 which actually was held in French between Blandine Blukacz-Louisfert, Chief of Institutional Memory Section here at the Library&Archives and Professor Bertrand Badie, who is a French political scientist and emeritus professor at Sciences Po Paris.  

While the conversation was in French, Professor Badie really wanted to capture the essence of his new book, Inter-socialités: le monde n’est plus géopolitique, for our English-speaking listeners as well. In his book, he argues that international relations have become inter-social, rather than geo-political. You'll hear more in this conversation. 

Blandine Blukacz-Louisfert: Bertrand Badie, you are a French political scientist and international relations specialist, Emeritus Professor at Sciences Po Paris. We just had a conversation in French about your book, your last book “Inter-socialités. Le monde n’est plus géopolitique”. For our anglophone public, could you in a nutshell highlight the main concept and ideas that we just discussed? 

Professor Bertrand Badie: Yes, it's my pleasure to have a kind of summing up of this book, because I expect a dialogue with all my anglophone partners and colleagues. The main argument of the book is to consider the changing world. We are moving from one world to another, and this is an exceptional moment in the human history. That's to say we are coming from a world which was dominated by power politics and state competition, and we are moving now to a new world which is dominated by what I call “Inter-sociality”. This is a new world. It's a new concept that I tried to coin to take into account all these huge transformations.  

What is inter-sociality? It's made of social dynamics. My point is to say that social dynamics are now much more proactive than governmental action, and this is the great transformation we are facing by now. Now, social is proactive while politics is more and more reactive, and more or less not really responsive. 

Previously, politics were proactive and social dynamics were reactive to the initiative of the state. Now it's exactly the reverse. That's to say, we are in a world in which social dynamics are first of all, fueling the new conflicts. That's to say, previously the war was a state competition of power competition. Exactly what Thomas Hobbes called “gladiator struggle”.  Now, it's exactly the contrary, that's to say new conflicts. More exactly, these new conflicts are stemming from social weakness. Social weakness is much more structuring the conflict than power competition. On the second point, these social dynamics are also creating the events. 

That's to say by now the main international events are really triggered by social dynamics, that is by through now with the COVID-19 crisis, which is the result of social dynamics and not government decision, of course. But that's true also, if you take into account all the social movements which took place around the world during 2019, when you had in Hong Kong or in Latin America, North Africa, Middle East and Europe many social movements which were totally reshaping the particle order and the international order and the international arena. That's to say these social movements are now transforming the international arena, which was previously only in the hands of the Princes of the Kings and of the rulers.  

These social dynamics are also restructuring the international agenda. The main international issues by now are no more particle or military issues, but social issues. That's to say, the most lethal risks are coming from food insecurity, health insecurity, environment insecurity more than the Korean or Iranian missiles, for instance. That's why I consider that geopolitics is over. And we are now in a world which is dominated by this very strong and disturbing intra social interactions. And I will put an end to my short presentation by saying that by now, social pathology is much more important than power politics.  

But if we want to understand the international relations now, we have to look at these social pathologies as students, permanent student and all students of Emile Durkheim, the French sociologist. I consider that this is the revenge of the Emile Durkheim. That's to say, if we want to interpret our world to understand our world, we have to first of all to look at the new social pathology which are not national pathologies, but arehuman pathologies and are spreading everywhere around the world. That's why our political institutions are no more really adaptive, and the military instruments are no more relevant as it was previously. All the military interventions coming from the red powers, Russia, USSR, USA or even France in all the new conflicts were failing and was a total failure. We have to explain why the USA, for instance, is not able to win a war since 1945. 

That's why we have to redefine a new way of conflict solving, which is based on social treatment rather than military action. This is a new program for international relations. I am an old man, I am a retired professor of international relations. And it's probably fortunate because international relations don’t exist anymore. The new generation will promote a new kind of colleagues who will be called inter-social relation prophecy. 

Thank you very much.  

Blandine Blukacz-Louisfert: Thank you, Bertrand Badie. 


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