This introductory chapter criticizes the amateurish way in which history is used to corroborate International Relations theory, in particular Realism. Conversely, it criticizes conventional historiography for its neglect of political theory. A case in point is the constructivist insight that political structures are created through political discourse. The political discourse underlying present-day political structures is so ubiquitous as to render those structures largely immune to manipulation. But since to most people the everyday political discourse of past eras is now unfamiliar, historians feel free, indeed obliged, to describe past political structures using the political concepts and assumptions of our own day. What they fail to realize is that unlike present-day political structures the political structures of past ages do change when anachronistic terminology is used to describe them: they come to look more like our own than they were.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.